Kansas City Gaelic Athletic Club Named Grand Marshal of 2017 St. Patrick's Day Parade
The board of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Kansas City has chosen the Kansas City Gaelic Athletic Club as the Grand Marshal of the 2017 parade.
The KCGAC was founded in a church basement in 2008, and it has grown its membership through the years. Its mission is to promote the Irish sports of hurling and Gaelic football and to promote Irish culture. Last year, both its hurling and Gaelic football teams saw great improvement and success, winning three tournaments, high finishes in other big tournaments, and peaking at the National tournament in Seattle, where the KCGAC defeated Tacoma for the winner’s cup.
“We are extremely excited and honored to have been selected as Grand Marshal of the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” states a KCGAC press release. “Our goal has always been to not only be a sporting club, but also be an active and respected member of the greater Irish community in Kansas City, something we’re rapidly growing into. It doesn’t get any bigger or better than to be at the front of this great parade!”
The Kansas City group is governed by the United States Gaelic Athletic Association, which in turn is governed by the Gaelic Athletic Association, based in Ireland. The local group is part of a new division called the “Heartland Division” within the USGAA. Participating clubs in this division hail from Kansas City; Saint Louis; Minneapolis; Naperville, Illinois; Milwaukee; Madison, Wisconsin; Indianapolis and Appleton, Wisconsin.
A Brief Primer
Hurling: Hurling is known in Ireland as “the fastest game on grass,” with its roots dating as far back as 2,000-3,000 years ago. It is typically compared to lacrosse. Hurling is played with what is known as a “hurly” or “hurl.” It is a long, flat, stick that widens at the end that players use to hit the ball off the ground or from their hand, like a soft toss. The ball is known as a “sliotar,” pronounced “slitter.” It is roughly the size of a baseball, slightly softer, though not much. Players must wear helmets. H-posts make up the goals at either end of the field. A team scores 1 point for putting the sliotar between the uprights and over the bar. Teams earn 3 points for getting it in the net past the keeper.
Gaelic Football: Gaelic football is played primarily with the same rules as hurling. In this sport, however, a helmet is not required. The players advance up the pitch with a ball similar to a soccer ball. Unlike soccer, a player in Gaelic football may “lift” the ball off the ground using their foot and into the hands. Once the ball is in hand, a player may “solo” up the pitch by bouncing it off their foot back to their hands, and by dribbling the ball a limited number of times. Passing is by foot or hand (like an underhand punch). Gaelic football will most resemble a cross between soccer and rugby.
To learn more about the ancient sport of hurling and Gaelic football, check out the KCGAC’s Facebook page for videos and discussion. The group will soon launch website called KansasCityGAA.com, but for now you may also follow it on Twitter and Instagram. The Kansas City Gaelic Athletic Club is a nonprofit amateur sporting organization, which welcomes all skill levels, ages and genders to participate. The club plays locally, as well as travels to various cities across the country for tournaments and matches representing Kansas City.