FC Barcelona Getting A Gaelic Experience In 2015
By Brian O’Sullivan – Experience Gaelic Games.
The year of our lord two-thousand and fifteen will be a challenging one for FC Barcelona. During the fall of 2014 FIFA imposed a severe punishment on the Catalan giants; due to breach of financial guidelines. For the next twelve months, the most famous club in the Basque country, are prevented from buying in new stock to boost their line-up. In Gaelic terms they are now bound to the “Parish Rule”!
The Parish Rule could fill a volume or a Hollywood film. If you never heard of the ruling, think of a country and imagine it as a tight knit community where Gaelic Games is king. Now congest its border down a radius measured at roughly four to five miles. Attach a Catholic church to that area and distinguish which primary schools are connected to that church. Your players must all come from that captive group. You now should have a fair idea of how the system works.
However, if you ever find yourself in some rural part of Ireland such as Four-Mile-Water or Abbeyknockmoy don’t be fooled by other methods of the parish rule portrayed by the locals. Some will tell you the confines of their GAA Club is measured by four distinctive bridges dotted in the four corners of the parish. That is a simple way of marking out territory. Believe me not.
Clubs who share a parish have varying methods of mapping out whose area should be whose. Sadly most of them will never be seen on ink. When Fairdays took over Irish towns borders were often debated, late in the evening, as the crowds dispersed homeward. Admittedly alcohol may have been involved.
A simple Cnocain, a small mound or rock, or Cumer (deep stream) are also used in these areas. Rivers are great boundaries; they are seen as definite symbols. Crossroads, ridges and amazingly a fairy tree are other markers used to define a clubs area. One wonders what happens if the tree is ever blown down! That is part of the untold story of tribalism in the GAA.
Barca Is Born
FC Barcelona was founded in 1899, despite being Spain’s top football team they always had “an outside influence”. The buzz of soccer in the Catalan region was started by a Swiss man named Joan. When Joan Gamper first raised the call of who wanted to play for FC Barcelona, eleven men presented themselves. Just enough to field a team; included was Walter Wild who doubled up as Club president.
Ireland has a very small connection with FC Barcelona, the club which grew to be the biggest in Spain from humble beginnings. Tragedy struck in the 1930s when the Spanish Civil War almost destroyed Barca. The club was on its knees. Enter Patrick O’Connell, a Dock hand, from Dublin who later found a living playing for Manchester United prior to the first World War.
When O’Connell’s playing career ended he headed to Spain where he managed Real Betis to League honours. He took over the reins at Barcelona when nobody wanted to be seen recognised with a dwindling side. Legend says his intervention saved the Catalan side from extinction. They re-established themselves to a super power soon after.
They say it’s only a matter of coincidence that FC Barcelona carry the same colours as O’Connell Boys GAA Club, Patrick O’Connells, or as he was known Paddy Don Patricio’s, would-be local GAA Club in Dublin.
Another team that carry the colours of red and blue are Dripsey, one of the youngest GAA Clubs in Ireland. The bold men of Dripsey in County Cork, define the fighting spirit that exists within parishes the length and breadth of the Gaelic world.
In December 2004 a group of enthusiasts came together to form the rural club. Hemmed in by borders, which incorporates Inniscarra and Aghabulloghue GAA clubs, Dripsey saw an opening. They drew up a plan to go it alone. And alone they went.
Amazingly the men from the Model Village became a model in Gaelic terms. Big money transfers were far from their minds as they set about establishing the club on the GAA map. Within five years the breakaway boys were All Ireland Junior Hurling Champions. They are still going strong.
FC Barcelona will learn a lot from their endeavours in 2015. Being confined to a select amount of talent can often be frustrating for those who are plunged into that unknown capacity. Many clubs thrive off being confined to a small pool of talent.
The urban/rural divide within the GAA demonstrates that deep rivalry. The small rural club lives for the days they get a shot at “The Townies”; victory allows them to walk the streets with impunity.
FC Barcelona beware UE Sant Andreu and RCD Espanyol are fellow parishioners
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