The Milwaukee Hurling Club youth league earned bragging rights this weekend when they met the Chicago youth club.
But there's more than just the score (23-19) for the kids and their parents to be proud of -- it's also the fact that these kids had to compete with many kids who had a hurley (a hurling stick) put in their hands shortly after they left the womb.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a hurling Dad. My son, Kennedy, is a ringer. As I watched the game from the sidelines, I would hear Chicago Dads screaming, "get on number 2" in their thick Irish brogues. Now I'll admit that it's tough to see your son constantly double teamed and I know when they said "get on number 2" that they weren't intending to do bodily harm. Despite the double teaming, he still managed to get several of the goals.
After years of losing to Chicago, it was refreshing to see a win.
So what has changed? A lot has.
Last year many of the kids went on a hurling pilgrimage to Ireland and to Croke Park -- the Mecca of hurling. They had a chance to play several Irish clubs and traveled to many of the counties, thanks in large part to their sponsor, M.Donnely who interestingly enough is a distributor for Milwaukee Tools in Ireland.
When on this trip they learned many different techniques and came home to practice them. The game Saturday was the fruits of their labors.
Now I'll admit that I'm a bit intense when it comes to the sport. It's the fastest game on grass and I've always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie. In comparison, football, baseball and soccer barely hold a candle to hurling. If hurling is the meat and potatoes, the rest of the sports we play here are like cucumber sandwiches with a side of brie cheese.
Kennedy was one of the kids who had the advantages of some of the Irish kids from Chicago. When he was young you couldn't get a hurley for a kid. I made him one out of pine when he was two. Ten years later, he's a scrapper on the field and a force to be reckoned with.
So when I see a 7-2 (seven goals, two over the top points) to 5-4 game, it's exciting for me. When I know that nearly all of the kids in the Chicago hurling club are the children of Irish ex-pats who have likely been hitting a sliother (the ball) since they were knee high, I'm especially proud to see the kids in the Milwaukee Hurling Club come out on top.
So it's nice to see the fruits of those labors.
The Milwaukee Hurling Club plays each Sunday at Brown Deer park. The next youth game is June 29th at 9:45am.