What you need to know about the city’s newest sport, Gaelic football.
The Basics ➸ Two “panels” of 15 players each try to score points by kicking a sphere that’s volleyball-esque into a soccer net. Players are allowed to kick the ball from their hands, kick it along the ground, or carry it for up to four steps. Some tackling is allowed, and the team with the most points at the end of the 60-minute match wins.
The History ➸ According to the Gaelic Athletic Association, the earliest record of its basic form stems from 1670 in County Meath, Ireland. Irish immigrants brought the sport to U.S. cities like Boston and New York as early as 1850 but it didn’t catch on until about 20 years ago.
Why Milwaukee? ➸ Hurling, a similar Gaelic sport, is already established in Milwaukee, but attempts to bring Gaelic football here in the past were largely unsuccessful. This year, the Miltown Gaels, whose board members have decades of involvement with Gaelic sports, are making a big push to take root by forming two panels, men’s and women’s, to compete against other Midwest clubs.
What’s in it for you? ➸ “It’s a fun, fast-moving game,” says Karen Seeliger, one of the Miltown Gaels’ board members. “It’s easy to learn and anyone can play. … The camaraderie with other clubs and the friendships that I’ve made throughout the years, here in the States or in Ireland, they really endure. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced.”
As if that wasn’t enough ➸ Darragh McNamara, Miltown Gaels board member and a seasoned player, likes the sport’s inclusiveness. “There’s no exclusion,” he says. “There’s a real feeling that carries over from a small country with a cool sport. People just get behind it.”
Where it all Happens ➸ The Gaels practice at Veterans Park (1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.) from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesdays. The team will play games at Irish Fest (Aug. 18-21). For an updated game schedule go to miltowngaels.com.