Galway's Johnny Glynn tries a baseball bat instead of a hurley as the return of hurling was announced for Fenway Park.
Galway vs. Dublin rematch set; Tipperary will face Clare
The AIG Fenway Hurling Classic and Irish Festival will return to Fenway Park this fall with a double header featuring four of the world’s most prominent teams. The first match on Sunday, November19, the will be a replay of the first edition of the Fenway classic in 2015 with Galway facing off against Dublin, with the Dubs looking to avenge their Boston loss. The second match is being dubbed as ‘the clash of the champions’ as 2016 National Hurling League Champions Clare will go up against 2016 All-Ireland Hurling Champions Tipperary.
At an announcement ceremony, hosted on the diamond at Fenway Park, executives from each of the partnering companies were present to express their enthusiasm for bringing the exciting sport of Hurling to Fenway.
Speaking on behalf of the Red Sox organization was club president Sam Kennedy, who remembered his experience watching Hurling for the first time during the 2015 Classic match between Galway and Dublin.
“The game was incredibly entertaining and I think our fans reactions, about 27,000 of them, indicated how excited they were about what transpired,” said Kennedy.
Looking forward to this year’s upcoming matches, he stated, “It is very exciting for us to have these four teams. It doesn’t get any better.”
Gaelic Players Association (GPA) Chief Executive Officer Dermot Earley, who was also accompanied by four professional hurlers from each of the competing teams, was perhaps the most enthusiastic about the prospect of bringing Hurling to an American audience.
“It’s all about promoting the sport, and I think if you put 30,000 people in [Fenway], and televise it, you can showcase the skills of the game,” said Earley. “What these guys can do with the stick and the ball and the speed of it and the physicality, I think that’s going to be massive,” he explained, “It’s all about promoting our national sport and this is a great way of doing it.”
The sport of Hurling is known as the ‘fastest field sport on earth’ with 15 players from each team playing on a pitch with dimensions larger than an American football field. Players compete using elongated sticks, called Hurleys, to launch a ball, called a sliotar, with the goal of getting the ball between two goalposts or below the posts into a soccer-like net. However in between these basic elements of the game, the sport of Hurling is, as Sam Kennedy puts it, “speed, skill, violence, passion, and talent.”
Watching a Hurling match, one can’t help but notice the heavy collisions and quick transitions as players jockey with one another to maintain control of the ball. While the game will be modified to accommodate the smaller field space of Fenway, the teams plan to bring the same level of intensity for the Fenway Classic.
Darren Gleeson of All-Ireland Champs Tipperary, shared his own excitement about playing in Boston this fall. “This is my first time in Boston and it’s a beautiful city, so I’m very excited about coming back in November,” he said. “I watched the game in 2015 at home in Ireland on TV, and I didn’t actually think I’d get the opportunity to play here some day so I’m very happy and I’m looking forward to it.”
Earley said, “It’s our national sport. It’s ingrained in every part of Ireland, and in every community the day stops on Hurling Final Day and All-Ireland Hurling Final Day. Everybody will be interested, in Ireland and here as well.”Tickets for the event are on sale now at redsox.com/hurling