The event was billed as "the world's fastest field sport" in a return to Boston's Fenway Park as a team from Galway met the lads from Dublin in a "friendly" hurling match Nov. 22 on the field at Boston's own cathedral for sports.
And the game more than lived up to expectations.
Our city’s revered baseball field was transformed into a football gridiron for an American college football game between Boston College and a nationally ranked Notre Dame on Nov. 21. That Saturday night, a sold-out crowd of almost 40,000 filled Fenway for a game that ended in an unexceptedly close 19-16 win for the squad from South Bend.
The next day saw the Irish hurlers take the field for a highly competitive match in which 2015 All-Ireland finalist Galway squeezed out a 50-47 victory over the Dubliners.
The 30,000 in attendance were mostly quiet throughout the first 15 minutes of the match, as the sport was unfamiliar for many who were seeing their first hurling match. But early in the second quarter, the Dublin goalie was felled by an injury, and a bit of a brawl broke out between the two squads. After that, the largely American crowd got into it, and loud cheers and dramatic “oohs and “aahs” could be heard as the action went up and down the field, as the lead changed hands several times.
Finally, the Galway team mounted a 19-point fourth quarter surge, and hung on for the win.
The game was played in a chilly drizzle – “The Irish brought their weather with them,” one wag said – and after it was over, a stage was rolled out onto the right field grass and the local rockers The Dropkick Murphys gave a boisterous 45-minute concert.
Later that week the Red Sox opened the field again for four traditional Thanksgiving high school football rivalries, featuring Xaverian - St Johns Prep and BC High - Catholic Memorial on the holiday eve, and Needham-Wellesley, followed by Latin-English on Thanksgiving day.