How to play the game
RULES & SKILLS
Hurling is played on a rectangular field ranging in size from 130–145 meters long and 80–90 meters wide. At each end of the field is a goal similar to a soccer net, with upright posts extending above the top bar on both the left and right posts.
Traditionally, hurling is played with 15 players a side. Teams in North America typically play with 13 players, with five offensive players (forwards), two midfielders, five defensive players (backs), and a goalkeeper.
The sliotar (hurling ball) struck or kicked into the goal is awarded 3 points, and a sliotar struck or kicked over the crossbar and between the uprights is awarded 1 point. In hurling, players may not score by batting the ball with their hand into the net (called a hand pass).
While there is no offside rule in hurling as in soccer or hockey, offensive players may not enter the small box in front of the goal before the ball enters. If a player does so, it is called a "square ball" and any score is disallowed and the defense is awarded possession.
ADVANCING THE BALL
The sliotar (ball) may be caught in the air, struck with the hurley (hurling stick), kicked while it is on the ground, or hand passed (released and struck with an open hand). The sliotar may not be thrown.
The sliotar may be lifted from the ground with the hurley and taken into the hand, but players may not touch the sliotar with the hand while it is on the ground. The sliotar may be tossed or dropped from the hand and struck with the hurley.
A player may hold the sliotar in hand for 4 steps or the amount of time required to take 4 steps. After 4 steps, the player may play the sliotar off the hurley and gain another 4 steps, but the ball may only be taken into the hand twice before it must be played away. A player may run for an unlimited amount of time while balancing or bouncing the sliotar on the hurley (called "soloing").
A player may use the hurley to block an opponent's shot or pass. When an opponent is striking the ball with the hurley, a defender may tap (or "hook") the player's backswing from beneath, but defender may not "chop," or strike down, on an opponent's hurley from above.
A defender may charge a player shoulder-to- shoulder if the opponent is in possession of the sliotar, or is attempting to gain possession while in close proximity to the sliotar. Other contact, such as tripping, holding, and deliberately striking an opponent with the hurley, is prohibited.
BOUNDARIES & FREES
When a foul is committed, a player from the opposing team is given an opportunity for a “free puck,” also called a “free.” During a free, the player lifts the sliotar off the ground with the hurley and strikes it in one motion without catching or touching the ball with the hand.
When a player knocks the ball out the sideline, the opposing team is awarded a "sideline cut." A player must strike the ball directly off the ground at the point it went out of bounds. If the defending team knocks the ball out their own end line, a free is awarded to the other team from the 65 meter line (also known as a “65”).
After a score, or if an offensive shot goes over the end line wide of the goal, the defending team is given a "puck out." During a puck out, the goalie is allowed to take the ball in hand and strike it with the hurley.
There are many unique skills in the game of hurling, but new players will find they may be able to draw on skills they have learned playing other sports. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) provides video demonstrations of skills that are particular to hurling. New players in particular will want to concentrate on the following skills:
RULES OF CAMOGIE
Camogie is a version of hurling typically played by women. With the few minor exceptions, namely those listed below, the rules and skills of camogie are identical to those of hurling.
Camogie is played with a slightly smaller and lighter sliotar than in hurling.
In camogie, players may score by hand passing the sliotar through the uprights. In hurling, hand pass scores of any kind are not allowed.
When a defending team knocks the ball over their own end line, the other team is awarded a "free" from the 45-meter line rather than the 65-meter line as in hurling.
From certain positions on the field, a player who has been fouled may take a free puck by striking the ball from their hand, whereas in hurling the player may not take the ball into the hand during a free.
Unlike the goal keeper in hurling, the goal keeper in camogie is considered an outfield player. That means that there are no special rules that apply to goalies in camogie, such as the type of contact allowed inside the goal box. As such, you will usually see camogie goal keepers wearing the same jersey as their teammates.
Camogie allows slightly different forms of contact than hurling. For example, a full shoulder-to-shoulder charge is not permitted in camogie as in hurling, but camogie does accommodate some defensive "playing the stick" opportunities that hurling does not.