As the downtown crowds began to thin out after Saturday's annual St. Patrick's Day parade, the real action got under way as Lexingtonians got their first taste of the traditional Irish sport of hurling.
A group of Irishmen who work on area horse farms assembled a team and took on the blue-and-white-uniformed Middle Tennessee Hurling Club in a muddy match on the CentrePointe block — and won.
"This is the first time I've seen it played in Lexington," said Helen O'Leary, a native of Ireland who has lived here for 12 years.
Players use wooden sticks called hurleys to hit or carry the ball, or sliotar (pronounced "slitter"). Players can carry the ball in their hands for up to four steps. Points are earned for getting the ball into the goal's net or over its crossbar, O'Leary explained.
She reluctantly admitted that she played on three teams that won All-Ireland championship medals in camogie, the women's version of hurling.
"It's kind of like your Super Bowl," she said. "The whole town closes down to watch the game."
She said Saturday's hurling exhibition brought Irish Kentuckians downtown who normally wouldn't have attended the St. Patrick's Day festivities.
"This is drawing every Irish person," O'Leary said. "We feel very patriotic being out here."
Saturday's balmy weather brought area residents out in droves to enjoy it all — from the parade's bagpipers, step dancers and Hula Hoopers to the Irish Festival's musical performances, beer tents and retail vendors.
"It's my favorite holiday," said Lura Hess, who gave her tiny white dog, Willow, a green dye job for the occasion.
The Murrell family — mom Traci and boys Travian, 7, and Traden, 4 — came to the parade wearing matching shamrock T-shirts that stated, "I'm extra lucky."
Travian said he was extra lucky because his family has "a good house," and he owns a PlayStation Plus.
Traci Murrell said they wore the shirts as a show of support for the boys' sister, Trasia, who was in the parade with the Arlington Elementary Eagles cheerleaders.
St. Patrick himself, otherwise known as Lexmark engineer Sean McLaughlin, held court near a pen of sheep wearing green scarves on the CentrePointe block.
McLaughlin said he has portrayed the saint in the parade for seven or eight years.
"I really do like getting to tell people who St. Patrick is," McLaughlin said. "I get to give them a little history of why we're all out here."
"'Cause of the beer," McLaughlin replied.
"Malarkey," Jones said.
Nope, McLaughlin said — "Blarney."