It is officially spring time! This means that the weather is finally starting to warm up and now many athletes can take their activities to the outdoors. Those looking for a sport that is truly Irish to keep them occupied, expect to look no further than hurling.
Hurling is quite an impressive sport that takes a large amount of skill, coordination and dexterity. For those not familiar with it, many people would draw a connection to lacrosse as a starting point. Both games use a long, blunt object carried by hand and both involve maneuvering a ball.
A big difference between lacrosse and hurling is that lacrosse players hold a lacrosse stick which have nets on their ends. The sticks carried by hurlers are called hurleys. Hurleys do not have a net, rather they are long, flat sticks that resemble small paddles.
Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.
There are many rules that may take a beginner a while to understand the sport of hurling. For instance, the ball, called a sliotar, is small and rubber. It can be caught in the air, but not moved for more than four steps by a player. The sliotar can also be hit in the air or while on the playing field with a hurley. The players can use their hands to manipulate the sliotar, however, it is only reserved for passing between players within close proximity of each other. If a player catches the sliotar and wants to carry it for more than four steps, they have to somehow manage to balance it on their hurley. While bouncing it, they can only use their hands twice to help prevent dropping it.
The team consists of fifteen players and they run the length of a field that is comparable to a soccer or football field. Teams score by throwing the sliotar over a bar at the end of the field for one point or by getting the ball past a goalkeeper. These are worth three points. Typically, teams try to get as many points as possible by scoring over the bar and only aim for goals when an opportunity is clearly advantageous.
This is a game that grabs a great following of locals and enthusiasts. It can provide heaps of entertainment as it is obviously a sport that can be quite daring at times. Many watch in awe from the sidelines as they admire the talented players’ finesse and love for the sport.
Here is an example of what you might expect to see if you were to go to a hurling match. It might even help to get acquainted with the rules and regulations beforehand.
Matches are currently underway all around Ireland. For tickets, dates and times please visit GAA Ireland.