The taste of Celtic spirits

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Ming Lam samples the Irish charms of Women’s Gaelic Football

Gaelic football is a sport that has had received relatively little attention in Glasgow University, but still continues to have a huge following in Ireland. After watching my first game in Waxy O’Connors between Irish counties teams Tyrone and Kerry and seeing the enthusiasm of the audience, as well as an atmosphere that would rival a football match, I was curious to find out more and decided to train with Glasgow University’s own women’s team.

Although not the most prolific of sports teams at the university, the squad have enjoyed success at national level, winning two consecutive titles in the BUSA Championships in  the last two seasons.

Established in 1884 by Irish nationalist Michael Cusack, Women’s Gaelic football is a hybrid between football and rugby, each team consisting of fifteen players where the ball can be either punched or kicked into goal. Although relatively parallel to the men’s equivalent, women’s gaelic football is less physical and shorter than the men’s game but is just as popular in its native Ireland.

Even in modern times, every country in Ireland has it own team in which local people play. the sport for passion and hometown glory and unlike national football is a sport that does revolve around financial gain.

Many of Glasgow’s players have taken part in the game from a young age, captain Roisin Devaney having started playing at the age of five or six and is passionate about her sport saying she would have ‘gone mad’ if she hadn’t been able to play Gaelic football at university.

Orlaith nic Grianna, treasurer and secretary of the club is also keen to point out the friendship and teamwork that stems from the club: ‘Since I joined the team, I have made life long friends. The girls in the team are close on and off the pitch.’

When I joined the team for training, it proved to be quite a challenge, consisting of three drills. We ran two laps across the field then did some stretches. We then practicised hand passing, soloing and kicks. finally we  were given to three members in the circle and one of the players in the middle of the circle must catch and pass the ball back to the circle. The second player in the middle must defend and prevent her partner from catching the ball.This was then followed by a mini match.

Even though I was nervous before I started training, I felt proud that I took part and received plenty of encouragement. I realised the true teamwork that was involved as well as the evident lifelong friendships that the club has created.

Club captain Roisin Devaney has high hopes for the upcoming season: “We’re hoping to get as many games as possible because we’ve got quite a new team this year and I think we could progress far in this year’s competitions.” She added: “There are quite a lot of Scottish teams with a large Irish following and it would definitely be a big boost for the club to be part of that.”

Devaney is also keen to move up from the B to the A League in next year’s British Championship Finals which will be held in Manchester next February.

The club face Edinburgh in their next league game and will be hoping to kick off their campaign in style.