Ireland’s fast-paced national sports on display at Magnuson Park

Discover Ireland’s centuries-old and unique national sports games right here in the Emerald City! Over Labor Day weekend, 2,000 athletes will take over Magnuson Park for the US Gaelic Athletic Association Finals, the largest Gaelic sports tournament outside Ireland. Teams from more than 30 cities across the U.S., Canada and they Cayman Islands will compete in Gaelic Football, Hurling and Camogie competitions on five separate fields at Magnuson Park.

Gaelic Football

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Gaelic Football is the most attended sport in Ireland. The game is played by men and women and has similarities to soccer and rugby. Teams comprised of 15 players must advance a volleyball-like ball up the field by kicking, carrying and passing it, with the objective of scoring by kicking or punching the ball into the other team’s goals.

Hurling

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Hurling is the national sport of Ireland, and combines elements of lacrosse, baseball and hockey. This all-men’s field game is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick, similar to a hockey stick. Teams of 15 try to hit the sliothar (a small ball) between the opposing team’s goalposts. The sliothar can be struck in the air or on the ground, or hand carried for no more than four steps. The origins of hurling date back 3,000 years and the game is considered to be the fastest game on grass.

Camogie

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Camogie is played by women and is almost identical to hurling. Scoring systems and field positions are the same, but game times are shorter and there are subtle rule differences. While hurling is played mostly in the air, camogie is played mostly on the ground with lots of fast-paced swings.

Games will take place from Friday, Sept. 2 through Sunday, Sept. 4. Games will begin at 8 a.m. each day with the last game finishing at around 6 p.m. Many games on Friday and Saturday will have free admission, while the cost to view other games is $10 for the entire day (children 16 and under are free). The Friday and Saturday games will determine who qualifies for the Finals on Sunday afternoon. For more information, visit seattle2016.com, or contact Brian White, Seattle Gaels, at 206-734-4550 or chair@seattlegaels.com.