Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hurling in America Has a Problem -- Too Few Irishmen [Wall Street Journal]

Hurling in America Has a Problem -- Too Few Irishmen
The Lure of the Old Sod And Immigration Issues Make for a Player Shortage
By CONOR DOUGHERTY July 26, 2007; Wall Street Journal, Page A1
For five years straight, the Clan Na nGael sports club in Atlanta sent a team to the North American Hurling Championships. That ended a year ago: Try as it did, Clan Na nGael could muster only 12 players, and it takes at least 13 to make a team."We didn't play any competitive games last year," says Jim Whooley, vice chairman of Clan Na nGael. "We just played scrimmage games among ourselves, six on six and five on five."Hurling -- a centuries-old sport that has elements of field hockey and lacrosse -- has an immigration problem. With the Irish economy booming and the U.S. tightening borders, Irish expatriates are returning home and fewer newcomers are taking their place.The New York board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has lost four of its eight hurling teams in the past three years. In Boston, the Wexford Hurling Club is worried it will soon lose one of its two teams. And ever since the San Jose, Calif., team folded a few years ago, Northern California's two remaining clubs have played each other, and only each other. They settle the local "championship" with a best-of-five competition. Hurling "is becoming extinct," says Tom Flynn, an Irish immigrant who started with a New Jersey team in 1954 and remains involved with the club's management. CONTINUE

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