Hurling is believed to be the world’s oldest field game. When the Celts came to Ireland as the last ice age was receding, they brought with them a unique culture, their own language, music, script and unique pastimes. One of these pastimes was a game now called hurling. It features in Irish folklore to illustrate the deeds of heroic mystical figures and it is chronicled as a distinct Irish pastime for at least 2,000 years.
The stick, or “hurley” which is traditionally made from ash wood is curved outwards at the end to provide the striking surface. The ball or “sliotar” is similar in size to a field hockey ball but has raised ridges. All players are required to wear a helmet similar to those worn in Lacrosse.
In the United States, Hurling is played by teams of 13 on a rectangular grass field with H-shaped goals at each end. Most adult games in the United States are played over 60 minutes divided into two 30 minute halves. Teams are allowed a maximum of five substitutes in a game. The goal posts are the same shape as on a rugby pitch except there is a net similar to soccer goals beneath the crossbar. The goal is guarded by a goal keeper similar to soccer or hockey.
You may strike the ball on the ground, or in the air. You may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it for not more than four steps in the hand. After those steps you may bounce the ball on the hurley and back to the hand, but you are forbidden to catch the ball more than twice. To get around this, one of the skills is running with the ball balanced on the hurley. Shoulder to shoulder tackling similar to that in Gaelic Football is permitted.
To score, you must hit the ball over the crossbar for one “point” or under the crossbar and into the net for a “goal”, the latter being the equivalent of three points. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
Please refer to the video below for a quick introduction or a more detailed explanation of the game here.