Hurling: Ireland's Dynamic Ancient Sport
One of the world’s oldest, fastest, and most exciting to watch sports originated in Ireland.
Compared to basketball, soccer, baseball, American football, and hockey, all of which originated in the nineteenth century, hurling is ancient. Literally. Hurling is a prehistoric game and has been played for an estimated 4,000 years. Compared to hurling, baseball is still in the little leagues.
The basic rules of hurling are pretty familiar to anyone who knows sports. There is a goalie who guards an H-shaped net, and the opposite team can score three points for getting the ball in the net and one point for getting the ball through the top of the net.
Hurling is played with a flat stick called a hurley, which is used to handle a small ball known as sliotar. Fifteen players take the field in only their helmets and uniforms, with no extra padding to protect them- or to slow them down.
Hurling is an incredibly fast-paced sport, engaging and dynamic to watch as the players run up and down the field, the ball ricocheting between players and teams. As Biddy Murphy CEO Ward Gahan says “It’s the most skillful and fastest sport...even faster than ice hockey.”
Played throughout the world as part of the legacy of the Irish diaspora, hurling is as beloved in its home country as it has been for thousands of years. Hundreds of thousands of people watch the games of this local sport.
Each county has a hurling team filled with the best players in the country. For many Irish citizens, their county sports team means a lot to them. The Irish love their county teams the same way that Americans love their collegiate teams (here in Michigan, Michigan and Michigan State) and regional teams (My Dad is always holding out for a win from Football’s Detroit Lions). When it’s game day, local pubs are filled to capacity with people crowding around to see the game on screen. Often, these fans are found to be wearing the crest of their county and the colors associated with their county, such as blue and gold for County Tipperary.
CEO Ward Gahan is a little disappointed that his home county, Tipperary, isn’t in the hurling finals this year. Personally, I am excited to cheer my adopted home county Galway as they go against Limerick in the All-Ireland hurling finals.
If you’re a sports fan, discover something new with this dynamic and fun-to-watch sport. The Irish have been loving it for 4,000 years, so you’re bound to find something you like about it too!
The All-Ireland Hurling Finals are August 19, so tune in! You can watch it on the Gaelic Athletic Association website.