Gaelic football
JUST WATCHING GAELIC football is exhausting. The sport, a cross between rugby, soccer and basketball, has no breaks or timeouts. When the ball goes out of bounds, the game is immediately restarted with a new ball. When one team scores, the goalie scoops the ball out of the net and puts it back in play. “I’ve never run as hard as I do in these games,” says D.C. Gaels ( women’s football team captain Margaret Gaine, who played basketball and competed in triathlons before joining the club.

Even though Gaine — and many of her teammates — had never played before joining the Gaels, they apparently have the luck of the Irish. They’re the defending national champions, and they’re headed to the mid-Atlantic regionals this weekend.

“It’s just so simple,” says Andrew Healy, who founded the Gaels in 1988 after he moved from the Emerald Isle to Washington and couldn’t find anyone to play his favorite sports with. “All it is is that they have natural ability, and we show them how to punch the ball and kick it.”

Easy to understand it may be, but easy to play it is not. Players can pick up the ball and run with it, but after four steps they have to dribble or pass. Although contact is supposed to be light (or nonexistent in the women’s games), it sometimes gets a little rough. Scoring in the goal net is worth three points, while sending the ball through two poles is worth one.

And it helps to remember that, win or lose, you’ll probably end up with a beer.

Written by Express contributor Ian Herbert
Photo courtesy D.C. Gaels