Why not try batting for a different team?


On a beautiful Saturday at the end of June, Wanderers Rugby grounds on the Merrion Road was taken over by eight teams of softball players for a ‘blitz’ or fun day-long tournament.

Teams came from around the city and country to pitch, bat, field and catch – and basically peg it around the field until it was time for the BBQ. That’s not to say these guys don’t take their game seriously. Softball has been gaining in popularity in Ireland over the past twenty years, and one of its most active clubs is based right here in Dublin 4.

Kiely’s Kegs is the local team, sponsored by the well-known Donnybrook Pub. They have two teams – the first team, who play in the Premier League and several of the firsts also play softball for Ireland. The Premier League team trains on Mondays in Wanderers and they are currently top of the league in the 1st Division.

The second team in the Kegs is called the ‘Chuggers’, who play in the 1st Division and they train on a Wednesday evening. Unusually in team sports, the second team has at least as much status, if not more than the first team – probably because everyone thinks they have the most craic. These are people who love to win, but winning just wouldn’t be worthwhile if they couldn’t have fun doing it.

The sport has attracted people from all over the world who are living in Ireland. Apart from the Irish, there were plenty of Americans, French, Germans and Venezuelans. Not that anyone pays attention to where anyone is from (they are all united in a love of the sport) but you could make up a pretty representative model U.N. from the crowd playing that Saturday.

For so many of the players at the tournament, what they love about softball is that it is mixed. Men and women compete together on the same teams. This is one of the factors that makes softball so intensely sociable. The rampant equality doesn’t stop there – you can be any age to play. A team of visiting 80-year olds from Germany played competitively at Wanderers recently.

There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ player – there are some stars, of course, but everyone is encouraged by the crowd and there is a serious amount of unselfconscious high-fiving, slagging and in-jokes. These are people who know how to have a good time.

They are always looking for players – anyone with an interest is welcome. You don’t have to be accomplished at any other sport, but a background in either Gaelic games or baseball seems to help. To find out more, check out the Keggies online at www.kielyskegs.com

Pictures by Ruth Kennedy.

By Ruth Kennedy