I’m pretty sure the Kevin Barrys squared off against the Naomh Peregrines in Sunday’s senior Irish football match at Cardinal Dougherty High School.
I’m also pretty sure the Barrys won it, 1-11 to 1-7.
Don’t hold me to it, though, because the rain was pouring down in buckets, nearly horizontal most of the time, with gusty, whistling winds. It was hard to see a lot of what was going on. For all I know, there might have been three or four neighborhood kids out on the field playing stickball.
Seriously? It was the most insane game of any sport I’ve ever attended.
The match was delayed for a time as the first in a band of driving rains, what we all hoped would be the last, passed over the Olney neighborhood. All the players sat in their cars and trucks, windshields misting over. The skies boomed and flashed. Black clouds rolled overhead like giant tumbleweeds. It was beginning to look like the all-important championship game wasn’t going to happen. And that was a big deal because the winner would be qualified to travel to San Francisco for the North American Gaelic Athletic Association finals September 2 – 4. In event of a washout, a game could be played this coming weekend, but … the closer to the date of
departure, the more expensive the tickets. Because of the cost, one wag told me it was a game no one wanted to win.
At last, the skies cleared. One optimistic Peregrine weather watcher looked up and noted that there was going to be a break in the storms.
So the game started. The ref blew the starting whistle. And then a storm of apocalyptic proportions suddenly and dramatically crashed the party. The field turned into a slippy mess, pockmarked with ankle-deep puddles. And this storm was just getting started.
Impossibly, it got worse. From time to time flashes of lightning lit up the scene like a strobe light. Thunder drowned out the calls and cheers of fans and players on the sidelines.
It was the kind of dangerous behavior they warn you about on the Weather Channel, but no one once suggested calling the game. The Barrys and the Peregrines played on.
Gaelic athletes are a reckless lot under normal circumstances, but this was a special kind of crazy, even for them.
And if you didn’t mind being the wettest and coldest you’d ever been in your life, soaked right down to your skivvies, it was a perverse kind of fun. Hard to explain when you got home—You went where??? You did what???—but a game to be remembered all the same.
Earlier in the afternoon—when the sun was still shining—the St. Patricks and Eire Og junior-C football teams went head to head in a fast-paced game. The St. Pats emerged the victors, 3-8 to 1-5. They too are qualified to compete in San Fran.
We have photos of all the action.