Hurling, you may have heard of it before, or you might be thinking we’ve spelt the winter sport of Curling wrong – we assure you we haven’t. Hurling is a sport of ancient Gaelic origin, traditionally played across Ireland. It is one of the two main sports played in the Gaelic Games. Hurling is played by men, while Camogie is the female equivalent; although both sports are relatively identical, and incorporate a number of traits that can be shared across other sports.
Depending on where in the world you grew up, you might have played Hurling in school as part of your curriculum, or even seen it on the TV at the weekend – yet, we’re confident the majority of people won’t know much about it.
If you’re a lover of sports, especially team sports then Hurling might be of interest to you – honestly, we feel like we missed out by never playing this before! Lover of Football? Lover of Rugby? Lover of Lacrosse? And why not throw some Ice Hockey in there too… yes, Hurling blends elements of all of these sports to create an incredibly physical event that is perfect for speed, strength, skill and coordination.
Here we will take a look at how these different sports relate to Hurling and what elements of them you can expect to find on the field. If playing sports is not your ‘thing’ but you love betting on them, you can check out the All Ireland Hurling Odds instead.
The first similarity you will notice between Rugby and Hurling are the goals. Both have the iconic ‘H’ shape. In Rugby, you score by kicking the ball over the crossbar and in between the posts, creating a conversion or a point. In Hurling it is similar, by putting the ball over the crossbar and in between the posts you score a point, however, if you score under the crossbar it is known as a goal – worth three points.
Another element of Rugby and Hurling that is similar is the physicality of the sport. We’re very used to seeing big muscular rugby players stop each other dead in their tracks with an incredible tackle, some might even make you flinch a little. Hurling has a similar element, in that you can shoulder barge players in order to try and catch the ball (also known as a Sliotar). The rough and readiness of the sport means it ends up in a lot of fistfights – sometimes the referee has to get involved! – Thankfully this is where Rugby differs, known as more of a gentlemen’s sport, filled with ‘Sir’s’ and apologies.
Football is only slightly similar to Hurling, most of it comes under their rules and regulations of play – however, the most apparent one is the quick adaptable nature of the players. These players run without a ball at their feet but still seem to whip around opponents the same way footballers do!
The main link between the sports though is the rules of play. When a player knocks the ball out, the other team has what in football is known as a ‘throw in’, while in Hurling it is called a ‘Sideline cut’ and the ball must be played from the ground. If a player has committed a foul inside the ‘square’ (the large rectangle) then the opposing team may take a penalty. If a team commits a foul, the opposing team may take a ‘free’ at the point the foul was committed. Is this all sounding familiar to you as well?
Lacrosse is the sport that is possibly the most visually represented by Hurling. Both involve a team of players running around a field with a stick in their hand in order to control a ball and score at the other end of the field. Lacrosse differs however and some would say it’s much easier as players carry the ball into the net, whereas in Hurling players use their stick (also known as a hurl) to flick the ball up into the air in order for them to catch it or, with huge amounts of skill, will balance it on the stick. Unlike Lacrosse, in Hurling the players can catch the balls and carry it in their hands for four steps, they can strike the ball in the air using their hands – something completely illegal in Lacrosse.
There is only one similarity between these sports that is worth mentioning and it is the fighting. If you watch a game of Hurling you are more than likely bound to witness physical tension – and in both of these sports, it happens often and is allowed to happen.
Although refs do attempt to break up the fights it is rarely successful. In Hurling you will see players pull off each other’s helmets, throw down their sticks and square up to one another – sound familiar Ice Hockey fans?
Ultimately, Hurling is an incredible sport that encompasses some incredible elements from globally loved sports – we for one wish it was more widely available! Whether you’re a Rugby player who loves a sprint out, a footballer longing for some brute force, or a Hockey Player looking to get those land legs going – Hurling has it all and we recommend watching this year’s All-Ireland Senior Championship final!