Hurling enthusiast Kristopher Wells, who runs a club in Georgia, is working on a documentary about how and why the sport is seeing such an upswing here in America. Check out his promotional clip. http://youtu.be/tNn6K7hp_qU
The various interview subjects hit upon the key aspects that are drawing more and more people to the game — its cultural relevance, the even playing field new players enjoy, the skills that are a joy to learn (though difficult to master), and the comradery players feel. Every single one makes this sport something special.
If you haven’t ever tried the game of hurling, check out this page on U.S. hurling clubs. Send their contact person an e-mail and you are sure to find someone who’s eager to spread the gospel. If you do, be prepared for an amazing amount of enthusiasm to come knocking on your door.
Now I don’t mean to spoil it for you, but it ended in a tie. And it wasn’t a sad, boring tie like you see in hockey. No, it was a nail-biting tie that was fought until the very last minutes.
The thing is the last few championship games have ended this way, and it goes to show the driving nature of the sport. This is a game you can play with your heart as well as your skills.
When the championship game ends in a tie, it doesn’t mean there’s co-champions either. It just means that the teams get a two-week rest and then play a rematch. If they tie again, there will be another rematch. Heck, this could go on forever.
That match is set for tomorrow, Sunday, September 28. In America, you can see it on the GAA Go platform. There’s probably other ways to see it live as well, but that’s what the Gaelic Athletic Association is promoting.
The extended championship has also allowed for a little boost for the sport here in the U.S. — The Washington Post blog Early Lead did a feature on the game and its players in its Early Lead blog. Check it out!
SUPER BOWL OF HURLING: Tipperary and Kilkenny face off in the final match of the hurling season in just a few hours. The 2014 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship is hard to find in America unless you have an Irish pub that’s opening up early or you’re willing to buy the game on Pay-Per-View through the web.
We’re just hours away from the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, which will see the County Tipperary and County Kilkenny teams against one another on September 7. Here in America, the game will be tough to see for free and expensive if you’re going to watch it on your computer. To do so, you’ll pay a pretty penny at the GAA Go site, but that will also give you access to dozens of other games from earlier in the season.
There are probably other ways to watch the match, such as visiting your local Irish pub, but they will have to be open quite early in the morning to carry the matches live. Over in Ireland, the hurling coverage begins at 1:oo pm with the minors match featuring Kilkenny and Limerick. The big guns start their game about 3:30 in Ireland. That means here on the U.S. eastern seaboard, the coverage starts at 8 a.m. (If I’m doing my math correctly).
If you can’t see it live, I’d suggest searching YouTube a over the next week or so and you will likely find it posted there. You also might find it at the site of Irish broadcaster RTE.
While you wait, check out this beauty of a tribute video to the sport of hurling.
Penn State tight end Kyle Carter hits a ball with a hurling stick as players take part in traditional Irish sports, Gaelic football and hurling, following practice at University College Dublin on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Dublin. (AP Photo/PennLive.com, Joe Hermitt)
It’s kind of thrilling to see the Penn State football players with hurleys in hand as they try out the traditional Irish sport of hurling.
If you’ve never heard of the game, you’re in for a real treat. It’s a crazy-fast sport full of action and, to American eyes, it looks remarkably dangerous. There are heavy wooden sticks swatting at hands and feet in an effort to get a baseball-sized ball into two scoring stations on each end of the pitch.
Hurling is played on an absolutely huge field — as much as 100 yards wide and 160 yards long — which means Penn State and the Central Florida will have plenty of room to stretch out for their big game in Dublin’s Croke Park.
To score in hurling, a team has two options. Option one is to smack the ball past the goalkeeper, who’s manning a net that’s wider than a typical soccer goal. The other option is to hit the ball above the crossbar. Blasting the ball, called a sliotar in gaelic, past the goalie earns three points. The easier shot above the crossbar is worth 1 point.
The squad required to play the game is huge too. You need 15 players on each side to fill out the monster-sized pitch.
Why so many players? Why on a field so big? That’s because a solid hit on the ball can send it more than 80 yards across the field. With that kind of range, you need lots of space.
Want to know more about hurling, then check out this short video on the basic rules of the game.
If you have an interest in hurling after seeing Croke Park during Saturday’s game or after seeing the American footballers trying their hand at it, then check around your nearest big city because there’s a good chance there are people playing hurling or gaelic football in your own back yard.
Once you find them, don’t be shy. Contact them and ask if you can stop by and learn more about the sports. You’ll be glad you did.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Hurley to Rise has worked over the last few years to try to provide some real instructional posts on how to play the game and describe it in terms familiar to Americans. In that time, I’ve managed to discuss a wide variety of topics about the game.
Penn State linebacker Mike Hull, third from left, grabs a hurling stick as players take part in traditional Irish sports, Gaelic football and hurling, following football practice at University College Dublin on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Dublin. (AP Photo/PennLive.com, Joe Hermitt)
While I’ve been mostly skipping hurling for this year, and prospects seem slim for any real hurling action in the immediate future, my enthusiasm for the sport hasn’t dimmed.
It’s still a great game to watch, as you can see in the above clip.
Even though I’ve been sitting on my kiester, the world of hurling has continued to move forward. Just the other day, I got a request to add a new team to my list of U.S. clubs. Welcome aboard, Richmond! (And if your club isn’t on the list, let me know!)
LABOR DAY WEEKEND: Check out the Gaelic Athletic Association matches coming up in Boston.
Likewise, the North American clubs are getting ready for the yearly championships. This time, GAA players from across the continent are traveling to Boston, where they will be playing at the Irish Cultural Center over Labor Day weekend. The event, organized by Boston and the North American GAA, promises to be be bigger and better than before.
Over in Ireland, county clubs are working their way through the All Ireland, the championship series of hurling. The semifinals featured Kilkenny vs Limerick and Cork vs Tipperary in the last week or so, with powerhouses Kilkenny and Tipperary making it to the Sept. 7 final.
WORLD COVERAGE: See what’s happening with GAA teams from around the globe in Gaelic Sports World
Beyond the game itself, the real story in Ireland is that Sky Sports, the British broadcaster is offering coverage of many Gaelic Athletic matches. That means that some Irish viewers haven’t been able to see broadcasts of their key games. At the same time, the games are being broadcast in the greater UK as well, resulting in some mixed reviews from British sports fans who are more accustomed to their own brand of football, rather than gaelic football and hurling.
Also since I’ve last written, a new digital magazine has launched. Gaelic Sports World, helmed by Gaelic Sportscast’s Denis O’Brien, is a publication dedicated to gaelic sports from across the globe. (You can even see my name in the magazine as a writer.) Check out the latest issue here.
Meanwhile, America is getting ready to invade Ireland with its own game of football. The Croke Park Classic, set for Aug. 30, will feature American college football teams in the historic Irish stadium. The match will pit Penn State against the University of Central Florida in a very unique setting that’s sure to pique many Americans’ interest in the gaelic games. Check out this post for a detailed look at the game announcement and a gaelic sports primer for Americans.
So, like I said, it’s been a remarkably busy time, even without me taking time to blog about it.