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The game is the oldest women’s sport in Ireland, a frenetic cross between field hockey, lacrosse and rugby. Daly’s family made multiple visits to her home in the Bronx after she immigrated, it was tougher to keep connected to her favorite sport. But practicing on that field every Tuesday evening, the fledgling group expanded to 55 registered members. Daly and the other Guards won the North American County Board Camogie Finals, celebrating their victory by dancing a jig on picnic tables in Chicago Gaelic Park and holding their trophy high.
“It was just pure magic,” said Jane Mc Cooey, 29, the team captain and founder.
When Aisling Daly moved to New York two years ago, she knew she would miss two things from her native Ireland: family and camogie. She joined the team, which began as a handful of women sharing a New Jersey training field with a men’s hurling team.
In her home county of Offaly, she had played camogie — the female counterpart to men’s hurling — since she was 8 years old. Some members of the Guards had never seen a hurley, or sliotar, and were not exactly sure of what to do with the slender stick and fist-sized ball.
Most met for the first time at the training grounds. English had moved to New York less than five months before and found a job at a construction company, but she was itching for a sense of community in her adopted city.
That day in Hoboken, she played through sheets of winter rain. English left her friends and family thousands of miles away to forge a new life on her own.“They can be brutal on the field, dripping with sweat, and then these girls will pop a dress out of their bag and be ready to go out,” Ms. “It’s a feminine toughness I’ve never seen in my life.” Camogie requires a wicked combination of speed, grace and grit.