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GAA Sporting and Spectating!

Hello All,

It’s been a bit of a busy week around UCD. Mostly with labs, starting research, and watching lots of sports!

This week I began a research project with UCD’s Fault Analysis Group, a research based group supported by funding in part from companies in the energy industry. I’ll be working with Dr. John Walsh and his postdoctoral researchers using high resolution 3-D seismic reflection data to map fault geometries. Most folks probably didn’t understand what I just said, but it’s really interesting to geology nerds like me! Understanding these fractures, how they form, and the patterns they assume are really important to subsurface fluid flow and that is hugely important to people in the groundwater industry, the oil&gas industry, and people dealing with subsurface chemical contaminants.

Also in the past two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to see the All-Ireland Final matches for both the GAA Gaelic Football Championships and the GAA Hurling Chamionships. Both the GAA sports are played with teams based out of each of the country’s 32 counties. The sports are quite different, although when set in the context of what the goal of sports are across the Olympic Games, they seem fairly similar. Gaelic Football is similar to soccer/football in that the players pass to a round ball to eachother, kick the ball every few steps, and aim to kick it into a guarded rectangular goal. However, there are huge differences in that players may carry the ball in their hands for a certain number of steps (I believe it’s 4) and they can pass the ball to eachother by slapping it through the air with their hands! On top of that, making it into the rectangular goal gets a team three points whereas hitting it through uprights above the goal (much like those found in American football) gets the team 1 point. The final match for Gaelic Football was a tight match, but in the end the home Boys in Blue, Dublin, won out! It was a pretty spectacular time to be in Dublin, especially at a sports bar.

The GAA All-Ireland Hurling match was initially played three weeks ago between Co. Cork and Co. Clare; however, the game resulted in a tie and the rematch was set for this past weekend. This time I went to a small bar down off of Grafton Street called O’Neills where the beer selection was large (much of it being regional) and they had one of the largest sandwich selections I’ve seen, it was fantastic as well. One thing I’ve noticed here is that many pubs serve carvery lunches, much like a Thanksgiving dinner in the United States. A friend of mine got one, a bit pricy, and received a plate piled with ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, greens, and a few other morsels; it looked incredible. The game started at 5pm and at first Clare ran away to get a 5 point lead right off the bat. Quite literally as the game is played with a wooden bat of sorts with a flat head. The ball appears to be much like a baseball, players must use the bat to knock the ball forward (doing so to oneself in the air is allowed, some players simply balance the ball on the bat while they run). The goal, much like Gaelic Football, is to get the ball through a pair of uprights (1 point) or to knock it into a goal (3 points). The ball may be carried in hand for up to 4 steps and the players may pass the ball to eachother. It’s quite an exciting game to watch, it is also quite violent with players trying to defend eachother using a mallet as a near-weapon. It’s quite an invigorating sport to watch and I would suggest anybody who has the opportunity should do so.

Anyways, I’m off to Brussels this weekend! Pictures and stories from that adventure are to follow!


Wesley von Dassow


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