Here Come the Hurlers

September 17, 2018
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The ancient sport of hurling will be showcased Sept. 29 at St. Mary’s Fall Country Fair, where the
Jersey Shore Gaelic Athletic Association will host a tournament for the 2018 Irish Riviera Cup. Photo by Tom Smith / TSP Images

By Chris Rotolo |

MIDDLETOWN – They call the ancient game of hurling “the fastest game on grass.”

On Sept. 29, fans will see just how fast that can be when teams from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Washington D.C. come to Middletown for a showcase hosted by the Jersey Shore chapter of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The setting for the Irish Riviera Cup Hurling Tournament will be The St. Mary’s Fall Country Fair.

“We’ve spent the last five years trying to bring Irish sports to the Jersey Shore area and recently we’ve really started to see those community outreach efforts take hold,” said Mary Beth Glaccum, the founder and chairman of the Jersey Shore GAA.

A ball-and-stick sport, hurling pits two 15-player teams against each other as they battle for possession of a ball they can either club into a guarded net for three points, or strike over an American football-style crossbar for one point.

Glaccum said the intention of the GAA is to offer kids from kindergarten through college access to Ireland’s two national sports, hurling and Gaelic football.

“Most of the more conventional American sports like baseball, ice hockey, field hockey, football, soccer and lacrosse have derived from Irish sports like hurling and Gaelic football,” Glaccum said. “Our mission is to introduce new games and skill sets to young athletes and allow them to get in touch with the roots of the sports they already love.”

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As a nonprofit organization, Glaccum said the Jersey Shore GAA has a voluntary ethos at its heart and strives to maintain a platform for interested athletes that is free of charge.

In alignment with that vision, the GAA has made entrance to its Irish Riviera Cup Hurling Tournament free to spectators.

“We’re very excited about hosting this tournament at the fall festival on the 29th, and we’re extremely gracious that St. Mary’s was willing to host us,” said Glaccum, who expects six to eight teams to play, including a club from the University of Connecticut.

Glaccum said participation in Jersey GAA clinics and teams is growing and enrollment is at approximately 150 members.

The Jersey Shore GAA offers adult hurling on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, as well as kids Gaelic football clinics on Saturdays.

The St. Mary’s Fall Country Fair runs Sept. 28-30 at 19 Cherry Tree Farm Road, and will include rides, food, entertainment, games, contests, vendors and a super 50/50.

This article was first published in the Sept. 13 – 19, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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