MHC Member Makes History as First American Selected for All-Ireland “Poc Fada”

By - Jul 16th, 2008 02:52 pm
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A Milwaukee athlete is on the verge of an historic first: Dan McAuliffe, a member of the Milwaukee Hurling Club, has been selected to participate in one of Ireland’s most popular and prestigious sporting events – the “Poc Fada” (“long puck [hit]” in Irish) on August 2, 2008. This marks the first time that an American-born player will be competing in this cross-country version of Ireland’s signature sport.

In its usual form, hurling is a team sport played on a field or “pitch” slightly larger than a soccer field. Grouped in teams of 15, the players use a curved stick made of ash (a hurley) to move a baseball-sized sliothar (pronounced “slitter”) down the field.

The Poc Fada takes the sport to an individual level. Beginning in the town of Annaverna, Ireland, twelve invited competitors must “puck” a sliotar with a hurley along a course that runs a little more than five kilometers over the Cooley Mountains. An Corn Cuailgne (“The Cooley Cup”) is awarded to the player who takes the lowest number of hits. Featuring a field of hurling’s “All Stars” from the best teams in Ireland, the competition garners a great deal of television and press coverage every year.

The event, which has taken place annually since 1961, is currently sponsored by M Donnelly & Co. Ltd., Ireland’s leading distributor of Milwaukee Power Tools. M Donnelly has also been a strong supporter of the MHC, and will once again be a sponsor of the club’s Youth League trip to Ireland in spring of 2009.

“As far as being the first American to compete, I’m thrilled and honored to represent Milwaukee,” McAuliffe says. “I believe being invited reflects that Milwaukee has made a name for itself in the hurling world, not only for its introduction of the sport to a broad American audience but also its level of skill.”

Training has presented a bit of a challenge for Dan, as Wisconsin is a little short on mountains. However, he has been improvising by running up the larger hills in our area, and is being assisted by an ad hoc training “team” of proud colleagues from the Milwaukee Hurling Club.

About the Milwaukee Hurling Club
Founded in 1996 by a group of locals who were inspired by a friend who had seen the game in Ireland, the MHC has since attracted attention and respect throughout the world for its growth and support of the sport. In the last two years alone, the club has been honored with founding member Dave Olson wining the Gaelic Athletic Association’s Presidents Award in Ireland, NAGAA championships for Junior B Hurling and Junior Camoige teams, the youth league’s first trip to Ireland, and GAA President Nicky Brennan’s visit to Milwaukee.

A unique mix of aggression, speed, grace, and skill, hurling is a team sport played on a field or “pitch” slightly larger than a soccer field. Grouped in teams of 15, the players use a curved stick made of ash (a hurley) to move a baseball-sized sliothar (pronounced “slitter”) down the field. Three points are awarded for hitting the ball through a goal, and one point is awarded for sending it through the uprights mounted on either side of the goal.

With membership now approaching 250 men, women, and children, the Milwaukee Hurling Club holds weekly practices and Sunday games throughout the summer at Brown Deer Park.

Full schedules as well as more information on the game and the Milwaukee Hurling Club can be found on their website at www.hurling.net.

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