Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I ♥ My Helmet

Yesterday was my first camogie practice outside. When I joined the team last September, I started on the day they moved their practices indoors. Although I got to play two matches outside, all my training sessions were in a small gym with a wonky wooden floor. I did a bit of practicing outside by myself over the winter, but it's different to practice with the team out on the pitch.

We did a quick warm-up drill and then a running drill, both of which had most of us doubled-over and panting. It's amazing how different running on the uneven ground in boots is. Then we got to the fun stuff – a practice match.

The trainer divided us into two teams to play a half-pitch match. We essentially had an offense and a defense and then a weird line of forwards who were back but playing forward. Yeah. He's always doing weird stuff like that. I think the trouble was he had two more girls than he had positions, so this weird back-playing-forward line was divided into two two-person teams. We were each had someone to cover but, in the end, we had the same goal – to get the ball forward toward the goal.

Yeah, I was one of these strange Billy-no-mates in the back-playing-forward line. I didn't care because it gave me a simple job – hassle the player I was meant to cover. She's one of the young hockey-converts and she's fast, so I had my work cut out for me. Sometimes she'd cover more ground than I could, so I'd just let her go and pick up one of the players on the team who were playing defense.

It was in one of these moments that I formed a deep and abiding love of my helmet. It all happened very quickly – I was moving in to hassle a girl who was trying to clear the ball. She's a transfer to our team and she plays hard – her swings are always crisp and forceful. She struck the ball in the air and got my face as part of her swing. The force of it was enough to make the tweeting birds and spinning stars of a cartoon head injury circle my head.

I was okay, but when she asked me if I was okay, she told me I was bleeding. This was news to me and when I stuck my finger through the face mask, I could feel the blood on my mouth. I stood there for a minute, dumb-founded. How could her hurley make it through my face mask? It took me a couple of minutes to figure out that I'd just bit my lip pretty badly.

Had I not been wearing a helmet with a facemask, I'd be missing some teeth right now at the very least. I don't even have a fat lip this morning, since most of the damage is to the inside of my lip. I do so love my helmet!


At 5 April 2006 at 10:40, Blogger Fence said...

Could've been very nasty. it always amazes me to see so many hurling players without helmets, are they all insane?

At 5 April 2006 at 16:55, Blogger -Ann said...

I think you'd have to be barking mad to not wear a helmet, preferrably one with a face mask. We have one woman on our team who never wears one because she says it interferes with her ability to see the sliotar. I guess she must be good AND lucky because she still has both her eyeballs and all her teeth.

At 5 April 2006 at 18:38, Blogger Col said...

(shaking my head) You are fearless. Sounds like minor damage overall, but definitely keep that helmet on!

At 6 April 2006 at 18:52, Blogger John of Dublin said...

God, I always hated playing contact sports, especially when a weapon like a stick was involved! Good for you that you had the helmet.

Give me tennis any day, it's safer! I've posted an article in my blogsite on this subject within last week.

BTW - thanks for your comments recently and the link to Earth and Universe - I've now put a link to your site up.


At 6 April 2006 at 19:32, Blogger Arbusto said...

I've gone to a couple hockey games recently. Is there more violence in hockey or camogie?

At 7 April 2006 at 07:01, Blogger -Ann said...

Col - I don't know about fearless. Senseless maybe. :) I'm just too competitive for my own good sometimes.

John - I love the contact sports, probably because I wasn't permitted to play them when I was a kid. Thanks for the link!

Arbusto - Camogie (and hurling for that matter) don't have the institutionalised violence, unnecessary roughness, and revenge fights that's given hockey its reputation. The big difference between hockey and camogie/hurling is that in camogie/hurling, you're able to wield the hurley in a variety of ways, some of which greatly increase the likelihood that it's going to come in contact with an unsuspecting head or knee or stomach. Not on purpose (usually).

Imagine if a hockey player was able to flip the puck off the ice into his hand and then toss it up in the air and use the hockey stick in roughly the same fashion as a baseball bat.

Here's a link to the news report from last year's All-Ireland Hurling Final. There's footage in there that should give you an idea of what the sport looks like.


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