Fancy a Puck About?
A Day Out at Croke Park. Sunday, 25th June 2023.
Sunday the 25th of June will live long in our memories and will provide positivity for us for many's a year. 10 players from the Naomh Ólaf's Social Hurling group were invited by Croke Park, to feature in half time fun games to help promote the Healthy Club Social Games.
8 of us travelled in on the Luas with a couple of families in tow. We picked up the remainder and a few more supporters at Croke Park. To a man we were either giddy with excitement or numb with nerves. Was this actually happening?
How many of us harboured childhood dreams of running out onto Croke Park? How many of us thinking that we were long past achieving that? Thank God for Social Hurling!
We were escorted through the turnstiles and to a seating area. We got to watch Antrim vs Meath in the Tailteann Cup Semi final. At the end of the game, we were ushered from the stands, down to pitch side and through to the tunnel below.
We were to get kitted out, go back up to the seated area and wait for another signal near the midway point of the Down v Laois first half.
As we came out of the tunnel to go back to our seats, thunder roared and lightening flashed. Nature's pryotechnics providing us with an unbelievable pitch side welcome. We numbly took our seats, trying to absorb every detail of the day and experience. Back down to the tunnel we went, at the allotted signal. Our hearts pounding. It was going to happen!
A quick few warm up exercises in the tunnel. One last piece of advice from the Croke Park staff 'Start playing as soon as possible, the ref will signal he's back on the pitch and you'll be taken off soon enough'.
We ran onto the pitch, looking around the stadium, scoring the crowd and etching the feeling into our memories. These will not be lost. Within our team, 9 counties were represented: Antrim, Carlow, Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Offaly, Waterford and Wexford. All Ólaf's men.
The game started quickly and was over too fast but my God what a game, experience and privilege. The nerves disappeared with the first step onto the grass, replaced with a willingness to ensure the experience was enjoyed and appreciated. The result was irrelevant, it was the experience and achievement that mattered. We were there to represent Social Hurling and to try to showcase the activity in front of the widest audience possible.
We all got our touch during the game. Some more than others. We all got involved in passing and tackling. We all made our mark. We all will had something positive to take away from the game, a flick, a block, a pass, a save, a strike, a solo - all these took place on the Croke Park pitch. Performed by a bunch of 40+ year olds.
We wore the Ólaf colours with pride. Families cheered us on with pride and tears. Our teammates, history makers, the first group of Social Hurlers to play at Croke Park. Pretty good going, for the group only started in 2019. The group has a small history but we're making our presence felt.
Social Hurling @ Naomh Ólaf GAA ClubIf you're interested or curious, you will be guaranteed a warm welcome, some running around and a good bit of craic. Any and no experience welcome.
Friday nights, 8pm on the club pitches.Contact Us
GAA National Hurling Blitz, April 2022.
The sun shone as we made our way across the M50 to the GAA National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown for the GAA National Social Hurling and Football Blitz. This proved to be a great omen for the morning ahead. 8 hurling teams and 12 football teams easily mixed over a coffee beforehand to settle the nerves. Our hurling team, although missing a few key players lined up for our first of four games against a team from Down. The result didn’t go as we might have hoped, nor did the second games against St Judes.After the break we got into our stride and convincingly bet a team from Hetfordshire who, rumour has it, were putting the ‘social’ aspect of the tournament to full effect into the wee hours the night before. Our last game was a close encounter against familiar foes from Cuala. A tight game with only one goal saw us take the spoils here again. All in all it was a fantastic morning and really captured the ethos of all things GAA. Sport, fun, respect and inclusion were abundant on the day. I’ve no doubt this will be replicated in our own blitz on Easter Saturday!
What Our Players Say ...
I joined the club back in 2016, bringing my son to the academy. The social hurling started in 2019 - though I didn't join in until 2021. I hadn't picked up a hurl since I was 12. I was 48 when I joined the group, 36 long years to forget any concept or skill I'd developed. I'd been sporty and active most my life, stopping all sport and exercise in 2014 - pesky kids. I missed the craic of the dressing room, the fun on the pitch, the joy of running around chasing a ball. Paul, one my boys' mentors, asked me a few times to come along for the craic and fun. I always found an excuse not to go. I didn't have a helmet. I couldn't run around a pitch at my age. How would my back hold up? How would my ankles hold up? How would my body hold up? I'm too unfit. Arthritis, sciatica - you name it, I used it as a reason not to do anything. I haven't played sports or exercised in years. I decided to take the plunge and give it a go - worst case scenario, I buy a helmet, I don't like it or don't enjoy it - I have a helmet for my son in the future, as he grows. The group has honestly given me a great avenue of expression, somewhere to chat, have a bit of craic and physical activity. Mentally, it's released a huge valve for me. The lads are welcoming, friendly and patient on the field of play. Newbies (and believe me I class myself as such) are given a lot of time to become accustomed to playing the sport. I haven't looked back.
My name is Neil Fogarty and I have been playing with Naomh Ólaf social hurlers since their formation in 2019. Born in Dublin in 1969, both parents from Kilkenny (Hurling is in the blood). My father played Hurling in both his native Kilkenny (Lisdowney) and in Dublin (Faughs). I played Hurling for Craobh Chiarain (Donnycarney, Dublin) from Juvenile and through all Adult grades. I joined Naomh Ólaf in 2016 when my son was old enough to join the Academy. I’m one of mentors with the 2012 Boys and am also the club’s Juvenile Chairman. Social Hurling is a fantastic way of keeping fit(ish), having a bit of craic (on and off the field) and meeting new friends.
I joined the club in the Summer of 2020 with my daughter going into the academy. I heard about the Social Hurling group and decided to give it a try. I didn't know anyone in the group and hadn't picked up a hurl in about 30 years. I wasn't great back then and found I was even worse than I remembered. The lads were great though. I'm delighted I started. I've made loads of friends and have great craic on the Friday nights.
I joined after seeing a message about it on twitter around 2019. I went up and was made to feel very welcome even though I'm from a different club. I had hurled up to u15s and went back and played a bit of junior in my early 20s but hadn't played in over 20 years. I enjoy going up for a puck about and the fact that nobody takes it too seriously (mostly 😀). Looking forward to a bit more of the social element this year.
I'm writing to explain why I play and joined Naomh Ólaf Social Hurling. A few years ago, I heard of social hurling being organised and being from a traditional hurling county I said I'd love to get involved. I'm 42yrs old and definitely thought that playing hurling at my age was long gone, but I was wrong. I find social hurling as a gateway that's still open for me and others like me, to "relive our youth" and to get physical exercise playing a game that we all love. It's also a great stress buster to park all the day to day goings on and meet up with guys from all walks of life with all different levels of ability and enjoy this wonderful game.I think social hurling has/is and will continue to be a fantastic social place for men and women to get together, have a laugh and get a huge amount of enjoyment out of it. Hopefully I will be lucky enough to continue playing for many more years to come.
Wrong side of 40. Asking my kids to commit to things I wouldn't/couldn't do myself. Too many nights on the sofa with a takeout and beer. Always thought hurling was one of the most skilful and beautiful games to watch. Part of my history, culture and steeped in fairy tales. Gave a sense of identity and pride. Can you hurl? No... no problem, let's change that. Randomly, I saw a Dad pucking a sliotar to his kids. Building up their confidence, hand eye coordination and keeping himself fit. Got talking to him and was invited to give it a go, head up to the pitch on a Friday after a week’s work and have a puck about. Armed with an old pair of tag rugby shorts, brand new Lidl hurley and a 20 year old helmet from my canoe polo days, I went out to meet the most unlikely bunch of lads ever assembled.As far as I could see, they were from all walks of life with one thing in common. Having the craic and beating a little leather ball around. Dip in and out when you can, get up off your arse and have a puck about. Felt just brilliant after it, bolloxed but buzzing. Keeps me coming back any chance I get. Clears the head in an instant.
I played hurling most of my life and had hung up my boots a few years back thinking that would be the end of it. I have been involved in the Friday night puck around since the beginning in 2019 and it has been absolutely fantastic to relive my youth. It's a great way to make new friends from all walks of life, have a bit of craic and try to keep some way fit. I would highly recommend giving it a try whether you have never picked up a hurley in your life or whether you played a bit and would like to get back pucking a ball about without having the commitment or pressure of letting a team down if you miss training or a match...its the same time every week and no pressure. Give it a go and if you are like me, you will never look back ! I now hope to be pucking a ball around for a long time yet, something I thought I would never say a few years ago.
My arm has been twisted to write why I play social hurling. Well......for me it's like this. Once you learn how to ride a bike you never forget. Once you have played hurling you never forget. You never want to forget. It's the touch, catch, thrill of a good strike, a hook, a block, a decent pass, skill, anticipation (in SlowMo). "No POINTS allowed" I was told on the first night - only PINTS in social hurling! That's the "social" side. It is all of that and more. The different club and county jerseys - worn proudly by men who are proud of where they come from, proud of belonging. Some of us don't have the county jerseys - have never had a sense of fashion (so the wife and daughter tell me) we don't really care - T shirts inside out - no one is looking.Some wear helmets to cover receding hair lines, others to hide the few gray ones coming through and then there are the few that played at a time when helmets were not mandatory, yes fadó fadó as my daughter reminds me.Yes there is that mix of age groups. Age is just a number - no one is counting - thankfully no upper limit. For me it is all about connecting - connecting with a group of people, initially strangers who become friends, who love the game of hurling - its the crack - the chat - the camaraderie. That's why I play.Its all fun until we are divided into two teams and the two lads that can still run are on the same team! I'm going in goals!
Growing up in England, my passion was rugby. In time, I became aware of hurling and was determined to play. Fast forward many, many years, and the opportunity came in 2019. Every game/puck around is an opportunity to develop my skills and continue learning, and to have fun. I enjoy it immensely, and look forward to Friday night and the craic.
How to Get In Touch
Olaf's at Abbotstown. What a crew!!#SocialHurling
2 weeks to our own blitz. pic.twitter.com/eoCHLouOa1
— NaomhOlafSocialHurling (@OlafSocialHurl) April 3, 2022
Olaf's at Abbotstown. What a crew!!#SocialHurling
2 weeks to our own blitz. pic.twitter.com/eoCHLouOa1
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