Davey Devlin catches a pass:James Coreas

Davey Devlin catches a pass: James Coreas

Craic, the Irish vernacular for “fun,” is what Gaelic football is all about. At least that’s what the East Dallas version of it is all about — community, camaraderie and some good, old-fashioned fun.

Gaelic football — by all appearances a soccer-rugby hybrid — originated in Ireland, and immigrants brought it to the United States. In 2010, Dallas started its own team (at the request of the Austin team, so it would have another Texas team with which to butt heads), which happens to be based right here in East Dallas.

Gaelic football is an intense, high-action sport that “combines the agility of soccer, the pace and high scoring of basketball and the fielding skills of American football.”

Four years ago, East Dallas resident Kevin McCann gathered a group of buddies, and shortly after that neighbor Emmett Long rounded up several more. Together, they created the first Dallas team under the North American Gaelic Athletic Association.

They call themselves the Fionn Mac Cumhaills (pronounced “Fin Me-kool”), after a benevolent giant from Irish mythology; they started an all-female team a couple of years ago. Now there are more than 55 men and 35 women who play. The teams aren’t made up of solely Irish men and women. Several nationalities are represented, and the team is “anxious to expand their recruitment,” spokeswoman Catherine Pate says.

Gaelic football is an intense, high-action sport that “combines the agility of soccer, the pace and high scoring of basketball and the fielding skills of American football,” member Kandace Walters says.

At a glance, it might look like soccer, until you realize the players are running with the ball in their hands. Pate says that was the biggest hang-up she had to overcome when she started playing because it felt like “traveling.”

In Gaelic football, the players run with the ball for four steps, and then either bounce the ball on the ground, kick the ball back to themselves, or pass it to someone else. Then four more steps and repeat, except they can’t bounce it on the ground twice in a row; that would be too easy.

The East Dallas group hosts a weekly “boot camp” followed by a training session, as well as pub leagues in the summer.

There are four Texas teams — Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — that play each other frequently, and they travel to other states to face off with other cities. They also compete at nationals, which will be held in Boston this year. Last year, there were 86 teams at nationals.

The group also plays hurling and camogie. And when the team is not on the practice fields, you can usually find its members in one of the various Irish pubs around East Dallas, celebrating their Irish, or not-so-Irish, heritage. 

For practice times and locations, or to learn more about the organization, visit the website at dallasgaa.com.


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