The Irish (and those aspiring to be so) invaded Dalian this weekend. The city hosted the All China Gaelic Games, a round-robin tournament of Irish football. Teams from Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen came to compete.
Shanghai took the men's cup, with Dalian coming in second. Beijing won the women's division, beating Shanghai in the finals.
I spent Saturday squinting through my camera's view-finder getting video of the event, which I'll put up over the next few days. For those who've never heard of Gaelic football, let alone played it, I'm starting with an overview of how the game is played. Here, Joe Keating, a staffer at the Irish Embassy, explains the rules of the game:
I recommend using headphones if you have them. The wind was awful and I did what I could to fix the audio. If you can't make it out, here's what he's saying:
Unlike soccer you can catch the ball in Gaelic Football. However, after four steps, you have to release it. That can be a bounce, or it can be a kick. It can only bounce once and then you must kick. However, as you'll see in the game, you can kick to yourself, and the better players will continually kick to themselves. Others find it easier to bounce. So, four steps then bounce or kick. Second four steps, you must kick, but can kick back to yourself. At any time you can hand pass the ball to one of your teammates. You eventually score either a goal or a point. The goal is equal to three points. After that, it's easy. Just hit the ball, kick the ball, over the bar, under the bar. What else can you say?
The game often gets described as a combination of soccer and basketball. To me it looks sort of like rugby, but since I don't actually play any of these sports (tennis, anyone?) I'll leave it to others to explain.
Coming up: Why the heck are you playing Irish football in China?
Note: This is cross-posted at DalianDalian.com. Since I was shooting video all day (three gigabytes worth) I didn't actually take any still photos. If anyone has stills of the event, tag them "daliandalian" on Flickr or send them (or a link) to eyeseast at gmail.com.