Hurling: The Fastest Sport on Grass

The History:

Hurling is an ancient Gaelic game played by people of all ages across Ireland.  It has been played in Ireland for roughly 3000 years and has been considered the fastest sport on grass. The game of Hurling combines aspects of baseball, lacrosse, soccer, football, hockey, and rugby. I know you must be intrigued by now. How can one sport combine all of these sports into one you ask? I’ll explain a little bit later but I’ll let you watch a short video right now.

The Overview:

The game of hurling is played with 2 teams of 15 players each. Only 13 players get to be on the field, for either side, at one time. It is played on a grass field 145m (475ft) long and 85m (278ft) wide. The goal posts at either end are 6.5m (21ft) apart and have a crossbar that is 6.5m (8ft) off the ground that a goalie defends. The game consist of 2, 30-35 minute halves. Any game that ends in a draw, or both teams having the same number of point, must be replayed.

So the objective of hurling is to score more overall points than the other. Most of the clips in the video show a member of the 13 man team scoring a point or a goal. A point is scored by hitting the sliotar, or the ball, between the uprights with the hurley, or wooden stick the players carry, at the opposite end of the field. A goal is scored by getting sliotar past the goalie to the back of the net and under the cross bar. A point is worth 1 point while a goal is worth 3 points. The scoreboard of this game keeps track of both goals and points but keep them separate. As you can see below, Galway (GAL) has scored 1 goal and 8 points and Kilkenny (KIL) has only scored 1 point and 0 goals. For the total score, Galway is winning 11-1 is this particular clip.

Hurling Scoreboard
Hurling Scoreboard


Now I know you are thinking this game seems pretty simple, but that would be wrong. There are only certain things the the players can do to move the ball up the field. They are as follows: one player with the with possession of the sliotar can hit it with the hurley, either on the ground or through the air, and move it up the field, lifting the sliotar with the feet or hurley and hitting it with the sliotar, running with the sliotar while bouncing or balancing it on the hurley, or using a hand pass by slapping the sliotar with an open palm to another player. Once the ball is in the air, a player on the other end must catch it in one hand to maintain possession.

Players cannot touch the sliotar, with their hand, while it is on the ground or throw the sliotar (or hurley) with their hands to move it up the field. When running with the ball, players cannot take more than 4 steps with the ball in their hand and cannot play the ball from their hand to their hurley more than twice in one possession.

These are the basics of the game of hurling but there is still much more to be covered.

Fouls and Substitutions:

Fouls can result from any of these actions:

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 10.18.00 PM
Hurling Fouls

Committing any of these actions could result in a warning or ejection from the game for the player committing the action. Fouls also result in a puck for the opposing team. A puck is basically a free play from where the foul takes place or where the ball lands after the foul. A puck will also happen after the sliotar going out of bounds. A penalty puck can be awarded after a foul is committed against an opposing player with a legitimate chance to score. This is much like a penalty kick in soccer. It will be taken from the 20 meter line in front of the goal. The puck taker is allowed to lift the sliotar once and shoot towards the goal or uprights.

Substitutions can also be made throughout the game with a total of five players being subbed in a single game for one team.

This sums up the major points of hurling. It seems quite complicated but does get to be pretty entertaining after you understand the rules and regulations.

The video below gives a better description and video footage of the basics of the game I have covered if you are more interested.

By: Josh Harlan


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