Guesties: Irish non-drinking games

Posted: October 13, 2011 by terryvandrovec in Guesties
Tags: , , , , ,

By Eric Peterson
Guest blogger

The Cliffs of Moher were breathtaking, the Twelve Bens majestic, the Ring of of Kerry exhilarating, the Kilkenny Castle exquisite and the Kilmainham Gaol haunting.

All were memorable parts of my recent trip to Ireland. However, I was also intrigued by the Irish sports landscape.

Three sports caught my attention during my nearly two-week Irish excursion – darts, rugby, greyhound racing – although Gaelic football, hurling (similar to lacrosse) and soccer are the three most popular sports in the country, according to Wikipedia.

I had no idea darts could be so frantic.

My brother, some of my Irish relatives and I came across the World Grand Prix on TV one night, an event being held near where we stayed in Dublin.

I was amazed with what I saw. The enthusiasm in the crowd was soccer-like, especially when Irishmen Brendan Dolan (see video) was in action.

Dolan made the finals where he succumbed to “The Power.” For those not familiar with darts, that is Phil Taylor’s nickname. Taylor is a veritable dart badass who hails from England and has 15 World titles to his credit.

The night we watched the Grand Prix, Taylor met Paul Nicholson in the quarterfinals. I had no idea darts could be interesting enough to watch on TV.

The theatrics were rather impressive as my Irish cousin assured me there was no love lost between Taylor and Nicholson. Both men made their way to the stage with entrance music that would make wrestling icon Ric Flair proud.

Nicholson’s song choice was “Whiskey in the Jar.” Nicholson sauntered to the stage wearing hip shades, antagonizing the rowdy crowd.

Taylor, who looked more like a plumber than world class dart player, made his way to the stage with a smirk on his face and the song “I’ve Got the Power” by SNAP, blaring over the PA system.

While Nicholson had the edge in cool factor, “The Power” pummeled the British-born Nicholson. I was so intrigued by what I saw that I naively asked my cousin if we could watch the event in person the next night.

“Are you kidding?” he said. “We will never get tickets. That thing is sold out.”

Silly me.

The Rugby World Cup was also being played when I was in Ireland. It’s American football without pads, in essence, a brutal game

When Ireland lost to Wales 22-10 in the quarters, it received Super Bowl-like media coverage and unbridled fervor from fans. Since the World Cup was in New Zealand, the match was played at 6 a.m. in the morning. Most people I came across the night before asked if I was going to watch the match.

Why not I figured? I was in Ireland, damn it.

I tried to pull an all-nighter and watch the event live, but failed badly. I crashed around 5:30 a.m., only to hear the crushing news later that day. Wales was just too much.

On the final Saturday night I spent in Dublin, my cousins took me to the greyhound track.

Handicapping dog racing is not my specialty, I found out the hard way. Picking the winners based on the coolness of their names was not a good system.

Big E does Ireland

The takeaway moment was the track was for all ages, in a Hooters-like way. I observed kids, who looked to be about 5-years old, place bets with more efficiency than I.

“Two Euros on No. 4 in the fifth race,” I overheard one kid say. I guess I should have listened as he picked the winner.

Here are other random thoughts from Ireland:

  • As my family and I bussed across the lush Irish countryside (much like the Griswolds in the family truckster); I noticed a common theme in most quaint towns – a very high concentration of pubs (not a surprise) and churches as well as betting parlors. And it seemed there was a castle sprinkled into every other town.
  • The natural beauty of Ireland is amazing for the size of the country.
  • The words “lovely” and “cheers” flow quite freely.
  • I learned the hard way one should never take a tour bus through the Gap of Dunloe on a path that was meant for horses and small cars.
  • The roads in Ireland are ridiculously narrow.
  • Touring the Guinness factory wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be.
  • The youngest prisoner on record that was jailed at the Kilmainham Gaol was 5 years old, according to our tour guide. The crime? Stealing chain links. Crazy.

About the author: Peterson – aka Big E – is a sports writer for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and general legend in that area. He’s also a diehard University of Miami football fan, but we like him anyway.

  1. shawnfury says:

    The dart video is almost like a parody. No one can be that excited about darts unless the blood-alcohol level is at least .15.

    I’m jealous of your trip, definitely want to get there at some point. Two years ago some guys named Furey from Ireland came to America on a trip and ended up contacting my folks because they thought they had a relation who had come to America in the 19th Century. It wasn’t a relation, but my parents had a great time having lunch with them and hearing stories of the country.

  2. […] hurricanes and earthquakes, Dumb and Dumber, Wikipedia and more. We’ve had guest posts on Irish sports, Big Ten mascots, amateur baseball and more. We’ve had podcasts, some where you […]

  3. […] A pair of guys I play hoops with — Greg Downs and Jay Rosenberg, New York fellas — wrote guests posts earlier in the year, Greg on Kentucky and Rick Pitino and Jay on his dislike/hatred/loathing of Boston. And our old Fargo Forum colleague Eric Peterson wrote about his trip to Ireland. […]

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