The average American would watch a hurling match unfold with awe and confusion. The display would be something of amix of soccer, hockey, football, rugby and lacrosse. One might think that the sport was a borrower, taking elements from many different games and creating something new, strange, fast-moving and full of action. Huriing, however, has been an important part of the Irish community for centuries
Celtic Tradition: A Brief History Of Hurling
Hurling can trace its roots far back into prehistory, nearly 3000 years ago or more, when the Celtic tribes were first settling in what would be know as Ireland. The game was of course quite unorganized and chaotic in those early years. There would sometimes be hundreds of players on the field. Injuries were common, the game was fast and brutal, and hurling quickly became synonymous with the warrior spirit of the Celts
The “Golden Age of Hurling” began in the 17th century, when the Irish nobility gained an increased interest in the sport. Matches became more organized and clubs were sponsored by the wealthy aristocracy. By the turn of the 20th century, the sport was organized and codified by the Gaelic Athletic Association. Inter-county matches and national championships became annual traditions. Even with such growing popularity, hurling never quite expanded beyond the green isle, enjoying only a moderate following in other nations.
Hurleys and Sliotars: Elements of the Game
The game is played with a stick called a huriey, and a ball called a sliotar. The field, known as a pitch, is roughly 90 meters wide by 145 meters long, with a goal at the center of each end of the pitch. The goal has a distinct “H” shape, and a net is tied up under the crossbar. The aim of hurley is to score by launching the sliotar either under the cross bar and into the net for a “goal,” or over the crossbar for a point. Goals are equivalent to three points, and if a final score read Cork 3-4, Kilkenny 0-11, it would translate into “Cork, three goals to four points, Kilkenny eleven points” Cork would be the winner with an equivalent of thirteen points.