During the week of July 8, 2013, The St. Louis Gaelic Athletic Club and Indianapolis Gaelic Athletic Club put aside rivalries for a week to join forces and head to Ireland to play in an international hurling tournament and to train with some of Ireland’s finest coaches and clubs. Although many of the stories happened off the pitch, here is a brief recap of the trip:
Sightseeing on July 8th and morning/early afternoon July 9th: Tour of Croke Park Stadium (approximately 1.5 – 2 hours) and Guinness Storehouse. Also, Hop On/Hop Off Bus at your own pace. (All tours and sightseeing mentioned are included and do not cost extra.)
After arriving and doing some sightseeing on July 8, the group went to Croke Park, the headquarters of the GAA and had a stadium tour which included the locker room and walking through the players corridor as if they were entering the stadium on game day with audio of the crowd cheering. A visit to the GAA Museum followed, where we saw items from the St. Louis club: A Recruiting Poster, Player trading Cards, and Ann Kinsella’s “Warrior’s aren’t always men” Poster.
From Croke Park, the touring party went to Kilkenny and headed to Indy GAA club member, Ciaran Connery’s Club, the Conahy Shamrocks, for training, exhibition matches, and a reception. On July 9, they trained with the Conor Brennan, son of Nickey Brennan, former President of the GAA and were treated by a wonderful reception by the Club where St. Louis and Indy presented jerseys to the host Club.
On July 10, the combined team was trained by Martin Fogarty in Kilkenny’s historic Nowlan Park and had a scrimmage. Training was followed by a luncheon with Brian Cody, the legendary trainer of Kilkenny’s hurling team. Participants took pictures with Brian Cody, he signed sliothars, and he sat down and had lunch with members of both clubs. Martin Fogarty, the Lord Mayor of Kilkenny, Martin Brett, and Bryan Cody was presented with the Indy/StL Ireland Jersey. Later the same day, the group went to Kilkenny Town Hall and met with the Mayor for a reception (see above picture). The Lord Mayor provided a history of Kilkenny, the royal charter dating back to the 1600s.
On July 11, the touring party headed to Limerick, and trained and had an exhibition match with the Sixmilebridge GAA Club. This was followed by a reception where Indy and St. Louis presented Club Jerseys. Sixmilebridge presented the group with Jerseys and a plaque commemorating the event.
On July 12, the group put their tourist hats on and visited the Cliffs of Moher, a wall of rock that plunges 700 feet to the churning Atlantic Ocean below and saw part of the Burren, a region of limestone hills containing a wealth of rare flowers and prehistoric stone monuments on the way to Doolin.
On Saturday, July 13, the combined clubs headed to Thurles, Tipperary for the hurling tournament. The group was divided into two teams. They met in the quarter finals, and one team advanced to the semifinals. The group were able to secure tickets for two senior hurling matches played after the tournament, Clare v Wexford and Kilkenny v Waterford. Brian Cody asked that we all sit together and wear our combined Iny/StL Ireland Jersey. At halftime, Irish television showed the group and commented on us. Both matches were tied at the end of regulation and went into overtime.
A great time was had by all, and both Indy and St. Louis were taken aback by the hospitality and good will shown by their hosts in Ireland.
Three million people in the world are descended from one Irish High King