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.
HERE IN AMERICA
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.
While it’s hard to believe, the sport is gaining major traction here in the U.S. Massive clubs are in Milawaukee and the New York City areas. Beyond them, even smaller cities are seeing teams popping up. You can even do a spot check for your state in Hurley to Rise’s listing page at http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/u-s-hurling-clubs/
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.
Here are some starting points:
- The Basics of Hurling — http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/2009/06/19/the-basics-of-the-game-part-1/
- So You’re Interested in Hurling — http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/2013/03/15/so-youre-interested-in-hurling/
- How to Hold a Hurley — http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/2010/04/23/the-basics-of-hurling-part-4-holding-the-hurley/
- Five Key Skills to Make a Great Hurler – http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/2013/05/16/five-key-skills-that-make-a-great-hurler/
- You Need Both Your Hands in Hurling — http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/2012/06/15/you-need-both-your-hands-in-hurling/
- Tips for Catching in Hurling — http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/2011/04/05/afraid-of-the-ball-tips-for-good-catches/
- Counties Count in the GAA– http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/2009/10/09/the-basics-of-hurling-part-3-team-spirit/
- No Pay for Gaelic Athletes — http://www.ydtalk.com/hurley/2009/10/07/the-basics-of-hurling-part-2-professional-amateurs/