A Twin Cities player ready to strike a ball in the air with Milwaukee players in the background

A Modern Game with Ancient Roots

WHAT IS HURLING?

THE ORIGINS OF HURLING

The game of hurling is prehistoric. Most sources date it at over 3,000 years old, making it one of the oldest sports still played in the world today.

 

Hurling even plays an important role in some of Ireland’s ancient legends. The mythic Irish hero Cú Chulainn was famed for his skill as a hurler.

HOW IT'S PLAYED

Hurling is often referred to as "The Fastest Game on Grass." It is a team sport played with a stick (called a hurley) and a ball (called a sliotar, pronounced SLI-ter or SHLI-ter). While there are a number of individual skills that hurling shares with other stick-and-ball sports such as field hockey, lacrosse, and baseball, there are some notable features that make hurling unique:
 

  • The field is famously huge, almost the size of three American football fields stacked side-by-side!
     

  • There are two ways to score. Hitting the ball through the two upright poles above the net (similar to a field goal in American football) is worth 1 point. Getting the ball past the goalkeeper into the net (similar to scoring in soccer) is worth 3 points. Because there are two different scoring types, hurling scores are always shown as two numbers per side:

2 - 9

(number of goals) - (number of points)

  • There are a many ways to move the ball down the field. Throwing is not permitted, but players may bat the ball with the palm of their hand (called a hand pass), strike the ball with their stick, carry the ball in their hand for limited distances while running, balance the ball on the end of their stick (called soloing), golf the ball along the ground, and even kick it with their feet. The variety of ways to play is one of the reasons that people with skills in other sports usually find that there’s something they can bring with them to hurling!

WHAT IS CAMOGIE?

Traditionally, the word "hurling" refers to the sport played by men, whereas women traditionally play a version called "camogie." With a few minor exceptions, the rules and skills of camogie are identical with those of hurling. You can sort of imagine it like the relationship between baseball and softball. If you understand one game, you're most of the way toward understanding the other.

In our club, all genders play together in our City League, which observes hurling rules. Members of our camogie team, however, are allowed to practice skills specific to camogie if they wish during City League matches so that they can feel more prepared when playing in camogie tournaments.