By Rory O’Donnell
Next Sunday, November 22, sees the much anticipated Super 11s hurling exhibition at the oldest, most famous baseball stadium in the world, Fenway Park. The event is sponsored by AIG, the Fenway Sports Group, and the GPA and follows Saturday’s sold out (American) football game between Notre Dame and Boston College at the same venue. Galway and Dublin will meet as part of a weekend celebrating Irish culture that will also feature Boston’s Dropkick Murphy’s providing some added entertainment to the day. With more than 18,000 tickets already sold, it is fair to say that the game has captured the imagination of the locals and is one of the biggest GAA events to come to Boston in recent years.
|The locals will get the chance to meet the |
Galway hurlers at the ICC Saturday.
The Super 11s format was conceived by the GPA to allow the skills of hurling to be showcased in stadiums outside of Ireland that are not large enough to host a full hurling match. Notre Dame University hosted a Super 11s game two years ago between Leinster and Munster. The strategy is to elevate the profile of the sport in the United States and build a base of support.
With heavy hitting sponsors and promoters behind the event, combined with the novelty of gaelic games at Fenway, the game is getting the attention of a whole new audience, in addition to the local GAA community. With local sports stations and media outlets giving the game exposure, and a heavy media presence at the game, it represents a golden opportunity to promote the games at grass roots level in the region.
The local GAA will get a chance to showcase the tremendous efforts that are underway to grow the games from the ground up. Under 6 to Under 14 players from the region’s youth teams will escort the players on to the field and some lucky kids will have the opportunity to display their gaelic football and hurling skills on the famous turf during half-time games. The adult board will also have the chance to distribute information about the more than 20 clubs operating in the New England area and the 2015 Boston champions in all grades will be recognized before the game.
It will be a return visit for several of the players who are traveling next week. Members of both counties have played in Boston in recent years; Galway’s Iarla Tannian played for a number of seasons with Fr. Tom Burke’s, while Andy Smith togged for the Galway hurlers. From the Dublin team, Ryan O’Dwyer has played multiple seasons with Wexford, and fellow Dublin players Liam Rushe and David “Dotsy” O’Callaghan played with the Galway Hurling Club.
There will be no fraternizing with the enemy in the lead up as the panels are being kept apart before the game. However, there will be a great chance for the locals to get up close and personal with the Galway players on Saturday. The Galway Hurlers will hold an open practice at the Irish Cultural Center, the home of the Boston GAA, at 11:00am, in preparation for Sunday’s game. The players will also conduct coaching for underage players, and all are welcome to meet and greet the players.
While it is primarily a hurling weekend, there will be an added treat, for Dubliners especially. The All Ireland Football Champions will also be in town at the weekend. Paddy Andrews, Dean Rock, Mick Fitzsimons, John Small, Tomas Brady and Eoin Culligan will be bringing the Sam Maguire to Boston. There will be a reception Saturday evening at Porter Belly’s in Brighton and then again on Sunday night at 6:00 at The Grand Canal in downtown Boston. All are welcome to meet the players and take photos with the cup.
So, there is something for everybody to enjoy on what promises to be a weekend to remember.
Tickets are available online at http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/ticketing/irish_festival.jsp