Student Tries Her Luck at Gaelic Football

By Dan Verderosa, September 18, 2019
Meghan Treanor ’22 competes in international athletic tournament in Ireland.

Ithaca College sophomore Meghan Treanor isn’t afraid to play ball. After an injury ended her high school soccer career, she joined the football team as a placekicker. This summer, she played a different type of football — Gaelic football — at the Renault GAA World Games in Ireland.

At the World Games, which were held from July 28-August 1, the occupational therapy student played for Empire State, one of two women’s teams from New York. Treanor and Empire State played seven games in the tournament, eventually losing out in the quarterfinals.

With rules that resemble a combination of soccer, football and basketball, Gaelic football pits two teams of 15 players against each other as they attempt to score by kicking or punching a round ball into their opponent’s goal for three points, or by kicking the ball through goalposts for one point. Players can carry the ball in their hands for up to four steps before they must either kick or punch it to a teammate, or kick it to themselves in an act dubbed “solo-ing.”

Treanor usually plays full forward— an offensive position situated near the opponent’s goal — for her local club, but in Ireland Empire State was in need of a goalkeeper. Treanor had some experience playing goalie in soccer, so the coach put her in. “It was a bit scary, but no one had any expectation of whether I was going to be good or not, so I wasn’t very worried,” she said.

In goal, Treanor focused on playing in the moment and sticking by whatever decisions she made when opposing teams played the ball towards goal. “I didn’t do too bad,” she said. “But a couple of the goals, I couldn’t get my hands on them in time.”

Jumping into a new position, or sport, is nothing new for Treanor. In high school, she would watch football games with her friends and joke that she could do what kickers do. So when an injury prevented her from playing soccer during her senior year, she approached the school’s football coach about a place on the team. After spending the summer practicing placekicking, she joined the squad and never looked back.

Treanor began playing Gaelic football as a child in Rockland County, New York, where she is currently a member of the Rockland Gaelic Athletic Association. When a soccer coach heard her father’s Irish accent, he told them about the league and recommended they try it out. She was initially attracted to the speed of the game, but the camaraderie and community are what’s kept her going back for so long. “Everyone is always willing to lend a hand, and you really get to know people from different areas,” Treanor said.

Asked how long she thinks she’ll continue playing, Treanor points to an older teammate in Rockland who brings her two young kids to games.

“I can’t see myself quitting until I have to.”