Hurling - The Fastest Game on Grass
Hurling combines the skills of baseball, hockey, and lacrosse in one high speed, high scoring, high octane sport.
What is Hurling?
Hurling is an ancient game that is thought to have originated as a way of training Irish warriors for battle. It predates recorded history and is mentioned in ancient Irish legends. The earliest known game was in 1272 BCE before the Battle of Moytura. It lives on as the national game of Ireland, dwarfs other sports like soccer, and draws huge crowds, sometimes upwards of 82,000 fans.
The sport is played with a stick and ball called a hurley and sliotar respectively. The hurley has an axe handle and is curved outward at the end to provide a striking surface. The sliotar has a cork core and a leather cover, very similar to a baseball.
How to Play
To gain possession a player may catch the ball out of the air with their hand or "scoop" the ball up from the ground with the stick.
You may run with the ball in hand for 3-4 steps but after that you have to do something with it. You may balance the ball on the end of the hurl to keep on running, hand pass by striking the ball with an open hand, or strike the ball with the stick
A hurling goal is like a combination of a soccer goal and rugby posts forming an H shape. You can get one point for striking the ball over the crossbar and three points for hitting it into the net.
The Playing Field
A hurling field is very similar to a soccer field, but much larger. In fact, a regulation hurling field is about 3 times larger than some soccer fields. The field is rectangular stretching 140-160 yards long and 90-100 yards wide. There are 2 H-shaped goals at either end of the field formed by 2 tall posts and connected by a crossbar. They resemble a soccer goal with American football field goal posts.
Teams in Ireland consist of 15 players a side and they line out as shown in the picture and these fields are about 3 times the size of a soccer field! Since we don't have fields that big in the US we play 11 or 13 players a side.
As of January of 2010, players of all levels are required to wear a helmets with a face-guards both in training sessions and in games. This is to ensure the safety of all players.
Helmets are the only required protective gear for players, but it is recommended that players wear shin guards and gloves. Hurling gloves are lightweight, grips on inside surfaces, and has hard plastic on the outside of the glove to minimize injury.