Hurling - The Irish Game

Hurling – The Irish Game

Hurling is the oldest known field game in Europe. It is fast paced and played over two halves each consisting at 35 minutes of length. Brought to Ireland by the Celts at the end of the last ice age, it is a distinct Irish pastime. In Irish folklore, hurling was used to illustrate the deeds of mystical heroes and their accomplishments.

Hurling is similar to hockey but it is played with a small ball instead of a puck. The ball is smaller than a baseball with raised ridges and is known in Gaelic as a sliothar. The stick, or caman or Hurley, is made out of wood and has an outward curve that is shorter than a hockey stick. The flat surface of the stick is used to hit the ball. Unlike hockey the ball may be hit in the air as well as on the ground. The ball can also be picked up by the hand. One of the skills of Hurling is to run while balancing the ball on the flat side of the hurling stick.

Scoring differs on whether the ball is hit over the crossbar or under the crossbar and into the net. Hitting the ball into the net is worth three points. There are fifteen players on each team one being a goalkeeper.

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Gaelic Football

Gaelic Football

Gaelic Football is a field game that has similarities to both Rugby and Soccer, although it is thought to have developed before either game. References from as early as the 1600’s describe a form of football played in Ireland that involved both carrying and kicking a ball. As early as 1885 Gaelic Football received its first set of codified rules.

The size of the field, also referred to as a “pitch,” is larger than a soccer field. The game of Hurling uses the same field. The field is rectangular measuring 130-145 meters long and 80-90 meters wide. At each end there is an “H” shaped goal with a net on the bottom section. A ball that goes into the net is worth 3 points and a ball that goes between the uprights and over the crossbar is worth 1 point. Scores are kept as “score-points” such as 1-5, 1 goal and 5 points making a total of 8 points.

Both teams have 15 players including the goalkeeper. For senior inter-county games the duration of the game is 70 minutes which consists of two 35 minutes halves.

The ball used in Gaelic Football is similar to a soccer ball but slightly smaller. Unlike in Soccer, but similar to Rugby play, the ball can be carried in the hand but only for a distance of 4 steps. It must then be kicked or “hand-passed” bounced, or “solo-ed.” Hand-passed is striking the ball with the hand or fist whereas solo-ed is dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand. The ball is not allowed to be bounced twice in a row.

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