August 18, 2017
Ireland is awash in excitement as its sports fans pack grandstands for hurling matches leading up to the annual Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Hurling All-Ireland Championship Finals schedule to take place on labor day weekend. Area pubs are even livelier than usual (if possible!) as fans from across the Emerald Isle have arrive en masse to support their respective teams.
If you want (or need) to brush up on your hurling knowledge before journeying to Ireland during this most exhilarating time of year, keep reading.
Known as “the fastest game on grass,” hurling dates back 3,000 years. Despite the intensity of the sport, no padding is worn by the players save for a plastic helmet and facemask. It is played on a rectangular field 140 – 160 yards long and 90 – 100 yards wide bookended by H-shaped goalposts 21 feet wide, 20 – 23 feet high and connected by a crossbow 8.2 feet above the ground.
Players (aka hurlers) use a wooden stick coined a “hurley” to hit a small ball (called a sliotar) between the opponents’ goalposts. They receive one point for shots that fly through the goalposts above the crossbar and three points for those that make it past the goalkeeper beneath the crossbar (called a “goal”).
Watch the video below for highlights from last year’s All-Ireland Hurling Final.
While tickets to the GAA Football and Hurling All-Ireland tickets are not easily accessible – it’s worth the trip alone just to be in Ireland during the championship, with the energy in Dublin City, unmatched on this special weekend that comes around once a year.
Consider visiting Dublin this September to combine the spirit of the GAA games with some of the finest golf in Ireland. Blessed with numerous wonderful courses within a short drive of Dublin including Royal Dublin, Portmarnock and The Island (to name only a few of the gems in and around the world-class city).
Royal Dublin is the second oldest golf club in the Emerald Isle (celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2010), and continues to enchant and challenge golfers of all playing abilities. The traditional links course is situated on Bull Island, a nature reserve attracting more bird-watchers than any other location in Ireland. Royal Dublin has hosted the Irish Amateur Open 29 times since 1894 as well as multiple Irish Ladies Amateur Opens, Irish PGAs and Irish Opens. A massive renovation completed in 2006 resulted in an extraordinary 7,269-yard par-72 layout.
Portmarnock Golf Club holds an important place in the American golf psyche as it saw Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead capture the Canada Cup in 1960 and Phil Mickelson and David Duval win the Walker Cup in 1991. Founded in 1894, Portmarnock consistently ranks among the top links courses in the world. Its signature hole, the beguiling 15th, is known for its stunning sea views and difficulty. With a trio of bunkers surrounding the green, the 204-yard par-3 is as daunting as it is beautiful.
The Island Golf Club sits regally on a peninsula nestled between the Irish Sea, the beach of Donabate and the Broadmeadow estuary. Featuring only natural challenges, the track boasts dramatic and intimidating sand dunes to be negotiated. The course blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings and is home to brilliant flora and fauna including wild dune flowers and melodious larks.
The sample itinerary below shows just one of countless possibilities. We can put together a dream trip combining remarkable golf and comfortable accommodations while leaving plenty of time for you to explore Dublin and all it has to offer, especially during the GAA Finals. Those looking to plan a trip around next year’s GAA Finals should note it will be held in August for the first time since 1903.