A national sport of reference, hurling is a very widely practised activity and has long been one of the leading representatives of Irish Gaelic sport . It is so popular in Ireland that the Irish do not miss the opportunity to watch a match, whether at the stadium, or on TV in a pub, which is watched with friends in a friendly atmosphere …
Hurling is an Irish sport invented centuries ago. It is one of the oldest sports in Ireland, and the oldest field game in Europe.
It has its origins in Celtic mythology, according to which the national hero Cuchulainn single-handedly defeated 150 opponents in the same hurling game. (according to information taken from a manuscript dated 1272 BC).
Recent Irish history would also have it that the Irish nationalists of the early 20th century regularly played hurling to deceive the English surveillance. Indeed, the latter played with rifles that they held by the barrel as a stick. The English could see nothing but fire!
Known for its complexity, it is also known to be one of the most violent sports there is. Many would even agree that it can be compared to rugby!
A hurling team 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, 75 to 90 centimetres long. 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.
Since hurling is a potentially violent sport, players often wear a helmet, although it is not mandatory.
The objective of hurling is simple, and consists of scoring points by placing the ball in the opponent’s goal over a period of 2 times 35 minutes… But beware, it is not easy because the ball cannot be picked up by hand! So the player only has the stick or his toes!
Once picked up, the ball can be distributed by hand, released with the stick (only on the tip), played by foot and cannot be kept more than 4 steps in hand or on the stick for a solo-run (this consists of running with the ball balanced on the tip of the stick).
Because of the use of the stick and the feet, hurling is a sport qualified as brutal and violent. It can therefore be easily compared to rugby, where confrontations between players are sometimes fierce, and leave some injuries to players when they give shoulder blows (called Body Check) to their opponents .
In order to limit the damage, it has been forbidden and sanctioned to give a blow with elbow, hip, foot and fist.
As a general rule, a hurling match is officiated by one main referee, two linesmen and four goal referees. A veritable armada of referees in short, but quite justified: hurling is played fast, and the ball sometimes reaches dizzying speeds, which makes refereeing difficult .
Generally speaking, it must be understood that the interest of this sport lies in the non-existence of offsides. Therefore, it is very advantageous to clear the slip for an interception of a player of his team. To do so, a player who wants to intercept the sliotar can only do so with one foot on the ground.
The pitch is 140 metres long and 80 metres wide, which is longer than a football pitch but a little less wide. The hurling goals are similar to 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.
Hurling competitions are organized by the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association created in 1884,). The 2 most important are :