A new club has arrived at Seton Hill University (SHU), and with it comes the luck of the Irish.
The Gaelic Football club was approved without opposition in early September by the Seton Hill Student Government (SHGA). Dean Boyle, a SHU student from Ireland, had proposed the idea to the council at the start of the school year.
“I started this club because I myself play the sport back home,” said Boyle. “I want to share and teach Americans about this traditional Irish sport as it is part of my culture and I want others to share in my country’s traditions.”
Gaelic Football, the largest traditional sport in Ireland, is controlled by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). “It involves a ball much like a soccer ball with two teams on a field,” explained Boyle.
On Sept. 15, the first meeting of the club was held in Reeves Library. “Many of you are here because you were prompted by me rigorously,” Boyle said. The gathering, complete with food, candy and prizes, introduced the sport to its new participants.
Boyle comes from County Antrim in Northern Ireland by way of Seton Hill’s participation in the Study USA program. The 19-year-old studies and works in manufacturing engineering back home, but is here on a one-year business scholarship. “Engineering and business go hand-in-hand,” said Boyle.
Following his introduction, Boyle showed a presentation on Ireland and its traditional sports.
Gaelic Football goes back as far as the 14th century. Along with hurling, it is the top sport of the country. Unlike customary European football, or soccer to Americans, Gaelic Football consists of its own rules and allows the use of hands.
It is mainly played in Ireland, but has spread to the United Kingdom and America. Currently there are 33 teams playing for the GAA.
“There are 15 players on each team and the objective is to score the highest amount of points within 70 minutes,” said Boyle. “The goal posts are similar to rugby posts except they have a net underneath the crossbar. If you kick the ball over the crossbar and between the two vertical posts then it is one point, if you kick it in the net, past the goalkeeper, then it is three points.”
Over 70 students have already signed up to learn the sport as of late September. Seton Hill’s Involvement Fair brought in a large crowd. “It’s great to see the enthusiasm of college students for this new sport,” said Boyle, “and it is nice to know that others want to share in my culture as I have shared in theirs.”
“Just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who showed up to the Ireland presentation,” said Boyle on Twitter after the meeting, “I really appreciate all the support.”
No games are scheduled as of now, but the plan according to Boyle is to set up “small, basic training exercises about the sport then finish the session with a few games.”
Follow @SHUGaelic on Twitter and like Seton Hill University-Gaelic Club on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest meeting dates and times.