Lacrosse, which originates in North America, is thought to date back to around 1100AD, making it possibly the oldest sport in North America. Lacrosse was originally played by Indigenous Americans to train warriors, honour deities, fight battles and even to heal illnesses! Missionaries and early American pioneers adopted and codified the sport however before introducing it to communities across North America and the British Commonwealth. The first recorded Lacrosse game recorded in Ireland was in 1867, pre-dating the foundation of the GAA by almost 20 years.
Lacrosse is one of the fastest field sports in the world and combines elements of Hurling, Hockey, Basketball and Football. The objective is simple – to outscore your opponent. The key piece of equipment is the Lacrosse stick which is used to catch, carry, and pass a rubber ball to your teammates and shoot into your opponent’s goal. 2 goals, surrounded by a circular crease, face each other across a pitch measuring 100 x 60 yards. Each team consists of 10 players – 3 attackers, 3 midfielders and 4 defenders, including a goalkeeper who is the only player who can use his hands.
Lacrosse is an extremely physical sport. Cross and body checking are allowed in Men’s Lacrosse meaning some of the hits can be brutal. Though Women’s Lacrosse differs in that, physicality is more limited, stick checking is still allowed and the nature and speed of the game means that body checking is often unavoidable and allowed within certain parameters.
Though it has physical aspects, Lacrosse does not reward brawn over brain. The game is played at a ferocious pace meaning that the teams and players with the best combination of agility, co-ordination and strength tend to prosper. Above all, speed is the key quality. That is – speed of wrist, speed of thought as well as straight line speed.
The 2014 World Cup
The 2014 FIL World Championship in Denver, Colorado is the 12th such event. Originally a 4 team event, it has grown with each cycle and this year sees 38 countries competing. Lacrosse Ireland first competed in 2002, finishing 12th out of 15 nations. In 2010, they placed 9th from a field of 29. At the recent European Championships, they won a silver medal so if they continue at this rate of progression; we expect 2014 to be the year for Ireland to make the breakthrough at international level. Our footballers may not have made it to the football world Cup in Brazil, but make no mistake, Ireland have a real shot at bringing home a medal from a World championship this summer.