Ireland was the latest destination for American football star Dhani Jones in his "Dhani Tackles the Globe” series on The Travel Channel.
Jones, who has tried Muay Thai in Thailand, schwingen (wrestling) in Switzerland and dragon boat racing in Signapore, went to Ireland to play the fastest game on earth: hurling.
Jones, a former NFL linebacker who played for the Giants, Eagles, Saints and Bengals during his eight-year pro career, goes around the world experiencing the cultures of different countries by immersing himself in their national sports in his travel show.
“In Ireland there I was hurling, day in and day out. I practiced with my team, the local college and little kids. All a truly memorable experience packed into eight days of work,” said the 31-year-old on his blog.
When it came to the auld sod, Jones put on a helmet (a familiar action) picked up a hurley (a completely unfamiliar action) and tore into training and improving his skills.
Instead of mixing it with the big boys, Jones started his hurling odyssey with six-year-olds under the tutelage of none other than Kilkenny hurling legend D.J. Carey.
“You’re like a kid at the moment just starting out, and what is brilliant about the nursery is that all they (the kids) want to do is want to go play,” the five-time All Ireland Medal winner said looking up at the 6ft 1in 250lbs plus linebacker.
Jones also took a walk down Grafton Street and took the Viking tour in the capital city as part of exploring Ireland’s capital. In his blog on the travel channel, Jones describes how the week took an unexpected turn:
"You know when you're tired and you feel like you have no energy at all, some things can still get you going. Well, enter the Trinity Ball, the largest private party any college puts on in the entire world. Yes, there was energy in my spare tank, and I used it.”
Picture over 6,000 college students having the time of their lives. There were three stages all going with different bands at the same time,” said the Linebacker.
“But hey, when in Ireland do as the Irish, and that means party.”
But the main task at hand was to hurl, and Jones went to Lucan Sarsfields GAA club in West Dublin to do so.
After an intensive week of preparation, he duly lined out and took part in a match, showcasing some of the skills he learned in a match his team would end up losing.
Though the result went against him, Jones did promote hurling to an audience that would never see it otherwise and made a few Irish friends along the way. So fair play to you Dhani, and keep on pucking!
The Dhani Tackles the Globe's Ireland show first aired on April 20, so visit www.travelchannel.com to see when the show airs again.