Camogie is to hurling what softball is to baseball. That is, it is the female version of hurling. Stemming from the pure tradition of Gaelic sports, and supported by the GAA, Camogie is a sport just as popular as hurling. Watching it on television is a real tradition in Irish families!
If hurling dates back to the Middle Ages, Camogie is a much more recent sport. It all began in the early 1900s, when women talked about wanting to learn the sport. In order to distinguish themselves from hurling, only practiced by men, women called their game “Camogie”.
Although many women were curious about this new sport, it was a great success as early as 1904, when the first official Camogie game was played in Navan. This first match was well attended by the public and the Irish players decided to create an Official Association dedicated to Camogie.
This Association allows then to spread this new sport, and the madness spreads very quickly all over Ireland: not a single county then makes exception to the rule, and each region creates its own women’s Camogie teams.
Camogie runs out of steam, and then it starts again!
Alas, the War of Independence, followed by the Civil War of the 1920s slowed down the practice of Camogie considerably over several years. In these troubled times, it was no longer time for sport, but for conflict, which plunged the Official Association of Camogie into total inactivity.
It is only in 1932, that the Official Association of Camogie is reborn. It is institutionalized as a National Federation, thanks to the support of the GAA, and many matches are then played throughout the country. From then on, the Federation registered many new players every year, which developed around the Official Leagues.
A team from Camogie has 15 players including a goalkeeper, 6 defenders, 2 midfielders and 6 forwards. Each player is equipped with a stick called “camán” or “hurley” made of ash wood measuring 75 to 90 centimetres in length. The game is played around a leather ball called a “sliotar” weighing just under 100 grams. The sliotar, once hit by the stick, can reach a speed of 110 km/hour.
As hurling is a potentially violent sport, players often wear a helmet, although it is not mandatory.
The rules are hardly any different from hurling, with a few exceptions:
Playing time is reduced to 60 minutes instead of 70 minutes for men,
the goalie wears the same colors as the outfield players…
for the free kick, the ball is placed on the 30-meter line and not the 65 for the hurling
the wearing of a skirt is mandatory for Camogie
For the rest, the principle is the same: the players, armed with a stick, must score points by piercing their opponents’ defence and shooting a leather ball in the direction of the goals.
The pitch is 140 metres long and 80 metres wide, longer than a football pitch but a little less wide. The hurling goals look like those of rugby (H-shaped) mixed with those of football. It is therefore possible to score between the two posts, or in the cage; the score depends on it. Indeed if the ball passes between the 2 posts, above the horizontal bar of the nets, the scoring team gets 1 point.
If on the other hand a player scores a goal in the cage defended by the goalkeeper, this is equivalent to 3pts. If a team has scored 3 goals and 11 points, the score is scored as follows: 3-11 and is equivalent to 3×3 +11 = 20 pts.