Gaelic football newcomer plays for team Canada

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Just months into a new sport, Sara McTaggart has already been selected as one of Canada's best.

The Waterdown native recently returned to class at the University of Ottawa, after competing at the Gaelic Football International Tournament 2005 in Ireland, for Team Canada.

Although Canada placed fifth, the 25 women came home with the Shield Cup, a consolation prize. Seven teams, from Britain, London, Australia and Asia, the US, New York, and Europe, as well as Canada competed for the cup.

"Ireland isn't allowed to play, because they would blow us all out of the water," she said. Australia and Asia won the championship, largely thanks to its big, rugged players.

Although it wasn't a great finish, McTaggart had a great time; it was her first year in the sport, and she's already represented Canada.

Gaelic football is Ireland's national sport. Although it shares similarities with soccer, volleyball and rugby, it predates all three. It's a rough, physical game, with frequent injuries, said McTaggart. It's similar to soccer, in that it's played in a field, with nets on each end. The goal is to get the ball in or over the net. Passes are similar to serves in volleyball, and it's about as aggressive a game as rugby.

"It's very fast. You're running all the time," she said. With 15 players per side, compared to soccer's 11, the field can be an energetic place. Play never stops, even after goals, when soccer teams traditionally pause for a quick cheer. In Gaelic Football, the goalie throws the ball straight back into play.

Although it's a rough sport, it's not as fiercely competitive as soccer, which McTaggart has played for the past 15 years. The teams are all friends off the field, and usually socialize after games.

"I like it like that," she said.

It's also open to a wide range of ages. McTaggart's team, the Ottawa Gales, has players ranging from 18 to 35. There's a junior team as well, and the senior team spends time visiting schools to show off their game.

McTaggart feels her soccer background has given her an edge in Gaelic football. She had been playing the sport less than a year when she was invited to join Team Canada.

It wasn't even a sport she'd heard of, let alone envisioned herself playing.

"My boyfriend is from Ireland and he signed me up against my will," she said. "I didn't want to go."

But all was forgiven once she'd attended a few practices. "I loved it."

The tournament was a great experience, she said. The tournament opened with a banquet, headed by the president of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

"He was so happy to see the national sport being played around the world," she said.

So happy, that the association put up $45,000 euros to cover the team and tournament expenses. Players were only responsible for their plane tickets.

McTaggart took full advantage of the trip, by extending her stay in Europe to see the sights and visit a friend in Italy.

She plans to use her winter off from Gaelic Football to focus on her fourth year at the University of Ottawa, where she studies linguistics and women's studies. She's hoping to attend the University of Toronto next year, for graduate studies.

Gaelic football newcomer plays for team Canada

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Just months into a new sport, Sara McTaggart has already been selected as one of Canada's best.

The Waterdown native recently returned to class at the University of Ottawa, after competing at the Gaelic Football International Tournament 2005 in Ireland, for Team Canada.

Although Canada placed fifth, the 25 women came home with the Shield Cup, a consolation prize. Seven teams, from Britain, London, Australia and Asia, the US, New York, and Europe, as well as Canada competed for the cup.

"Ireland isn't allowed to play, because they would blow us all out of the water," she said. Australia and Asia won the championship, largely thanks to its big, rugged players.

Although it wasn't a great finish, McTaggart had a great time; it was her first year in the sport, and she's already represented Canada.

Gaelic football is Ireland's national sport. Although it shares similarities with soccer, volleyball and rugby, it predates all three. It's a rough, physical game, with frequent injuries, said McTaggart. It's similar to soccer, in that it's played in a field, with nets on each end. The goal is to get the ball in or over the net. Passes are similar to serves in volleyball, and it's about as aggressive a game as rugby.

"It's very fast. You're running all the time," she said. With 15 players per side, compared to soccer's 11, the field can be an energetic place. Play never stops, even after goals, when soccer teams traditionally pause for a quick cheer. In Gaelic Football, the goalie throws the ball straight back into play.

Although it's a rough sport, it's not as fiercely competitive as soccer, which McTaggart has played for the past 15 years. The teams are all friends off the field, and usually socialize after games.

"I like it like that," she said.

It's also open to a wide range of ages. McTaggart's team, the Ottawa Gales, has players ranging from 18 to 35. There's a junior team as well, and the senior team spends time visiting schools to show off their game.

McTaggart feels her soccer background has given her an edge in Gaelic football. She had been playing the sport less than a year when she was invited to join Team Canada.

It wasn't even a sport she'd heard of, let alone envisioned herself playing.

"My boyfriend is from Ireland and he signed me up against my will," she said. "I didn't want to go."

But all was forgiven once she'd attended a few practices. "I loved it."

The tournament was a great experience, she said. The tournament opened with a banquet, headed by the president of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

"He was so happy to see the national sport being played around the world," she said.

So happy, that the association put up $45,000 euros to cover the team and tournament expenses. Players were only responsible for their plane tickets.

McTaggart took full advantage of the trip, by extending her stay in Europe to see the sights and visit a friend in Italy.

She plans to use her winter off from Gaelic Football to focus on her fourth year at the University of Ottawa, where she studies linguistics and women's studies. She's hoping to attend the University of Toronto next year, for graduate studies.

Gaelic football newcomer plays for team Canada

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Just months into a new sport, Sara McTaggart has already been selected as one of Canada's best.

The Waterdown native recently returned to class at the University of Ottawa, after competing at the Gaelic Football International Tournament 2005 in Ireland, for Team Canada.

Although Canada placed fifth, the 25 women came home with the Shield Cup, a consolation prize. Seven teams, from Britain, London, Australia and Asia, the US, New York, and Europe, as well as Canada competed for the cup.

"Ireland isn't allowed to play, because they would blow us all out of the water," she said. Australia and Asia won the championship, largely thanks to its big, rugged players.

Although it wasn't a great finish, McTaggart had a great time; it was her first year in the sport, and she's already represented Canada.

Gaelic football is Ireland's national sport. Although it shares similarities with soccer, volleyball and rugby, it predates all three. It's a rough, physical game, with frequent injuries, said McTaggart. It's similar to soccer, in that it's played in a field, with nets on each end. The goal is to get the ball in or over the net. Passes are similar to serves in volleyball, and it's about as aggressive a game as rugby.

"It's very fast. You're running all the time," she said. With 15 players per side, compared to soccer's 11, the field can be an energetic place. Play never stops, even after goals, when soccer teams traditionally pause for a quick cheer. In Gaelic Football, the goalie throws the ball straight back into play.

Although it's a rough sport, it's not as fiercely competitive as soccer, which McTaggart has played for the past 15 years. The teams are all friends off the field, and usually socialize after games.

"I like it like that," she said.

It's also open to a wide range of ages. McTaggart's team, the Ottawa Gales, has players ranging from 18 to 35. There's a junior team as well, and the senior team spends time visiting schools to show off their game.

McTaggart feels her soccer background has given her an edge in Gaelic football. She had been playing the sport less than a year when she was invited to join Team Canada.

It wasn't even a sport she'd heard of, let alone envisioned herself playing.

"My boyfriend is from Ireland and he signed me up against my will," she said. "I didn't want to go."

But all was forgiven once she'd attended a few practices. "I loved it."

The tournament was a great experience, she said. The tournament opened with a banquet, headed by the president of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

"He was so happy to see the national sport being played around the world," she said.

So happy, that the association put up $45,000 euros to cover the team and tournament expenses. Players were only responsible for their plane tickets.

McTaggart took full advantage of the trip, by extending her stay in Europe to see the sights and visit a friend in Italy.

She plans to use her winter off from Gaelic Football to focus on her fourth year at the University of Ottawa, where she studies linguistics and women's studies. She's hoping to attend the University of Toronto next year, for graduate studies.