A game of ancient origins that dates back to pre-Christian times, Hurling has been the national sport of Ireland since the late 1800’s. Hurling was originally used by the Celtic kings to train their warriors for battle and is considered the oldest of Irish sports. Today, teams in Ireland represent the various counties throughout the land with the passion and rivalry running as deep and heartfelt as our own football fans here in the U.S.
A standard sized hurling field approximately 150m long and 100m wide. Each team has 15 players with 6 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 midfielders and a goalie. Matches can also be played with smaller teams on smaller fields depending on the number/size of the team and area.
Each player carries a hurley. The average hurley is approximately thirty-six inches long and has a long, slender handle which widens at the end to a maximum width of six inches. The goalie’s hurley is typically slightly larger at the end.
The sliothar is only three inches in diameter with a cork center and a leather cover, very similar to baseballs except that sliothars have raised seams.
Most players wear a helmet and shinguards though neither are required. New players at IndyHurling are required to wear a helmet. While special hurling helmets are available, many players wear a hockey or lacrosse helmet.
Scoring in hurling is accomplished in one of two ways. You score a goal by hitting the sliotar under the crossbar and you score a point by hitting it over the cross bar. A goal is equivalent to 3 points. When reading hurling score they’re generally written as # of goals-# of points. For example, Pat Flynns beat Connors 7-6 to 4-8. That’s 7 goals and 6 points (total of 27) to 4 goals and 8 points (total of 20).
In hurling you may not pick up the sliotar from the ground but instead you must “lift” the sliotar into the air by flicking it up with the hurley. You also may not throw the sliotar but instead you can hand pass it by hitting the sliotar with an open hand. Once you have the sliotar in your hand you can take up to 4 steps before doing something with it. You may pass it or bounce it off the hurley, however you may only take the sliotar into the hand twice. Soloing is balancing the sliotar on the end of the hurley while running.
Hurling is a fairly physical sport. Players are not allowed to push or pull other players but shoulder-to-shoulder contact, called tackling, is permitted. Since the field is so large, fitness is a primary goal for all players. Being able to strike the ball from both your right and left sides is also a skill that is honed in practice.
Matches are played in two halves ranging anywhere from 30 minutes to 35 minutes depending on the level of play. Most club matches are 30 minutes a half while most inter-club matches are 35 minutes.