Hurling (Ireland)

Hurling (Ireland)

  • Name of sport (game): Hurling
  • Name in native language: Iomáint (Irish)
  • Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

    The game is practiced in Ireland and Northern Ireland, but also eg. in Australia.

  • History:

    The game of Hurling was invented in the prehistoric period. It is believed to have been played by the ancient Celts on the territory of today’s Ireland. The earliest written references to the sport in Brehon law date from the fifth century. Meallbreatha, a figure known in Middle Ages, describes punishment for hurting players in games that resemble hurling.
    In sixteenth century Lord Chancellor of Britain made a complaint about a number of English soldiers for speaking Irish and playing hurling.
    The eighteenth century is frequently referred to as "The Golden Age of Hurling". This was when members of the Anglo-Irish gentry kept teams of players on their estates and challenged each other's teams to matches for the amusement of their tenants.
    The founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in 1884 in Thurles, Co Tipperary, was aimed to promote Gaelic sports like hurling and Gaelic football and organize the game around a common set of written rules. In 1887 a league of hurling was created. Since than championships of this have been organized nearly every year. Hurling was an unofficial sport at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States.

  • Description:

    The match is played between two teams of 15 players. The objective of the game is for players to use a wooden stick called a hurl to hit a small ball called a sliotar between the opponents' goalposts.
    A hurling pitch is similar in some respects to a rugby pitch but larger. The grass pitch is rectangular, stretching 130–145 meters long and 80–90 wide. There are H-shaped goalposts at each end, formed by two posts set 6.5 m apart and connected 2.5 m above the ground by a crossbar. A net extending behind the goal is attached to the crossbar and lower goal posts.
    Scoring is achieved by sending the small ball called sliotar between the opposition's goal posts. If the ball goes below the crossbar, a goal, worth three points, is scored. If the ball goes over the crossbar, a point is scored.
    Matches last 60 minutes (30 minutes per half). In some cases (for example inter-country senior matches) the time may be extended to 70 minutes.
    If a game finishes in a draw, a replay is staged. If a replay finishes in a draw, 20 minutes of extra time are played (10 minutes per half). If the game is still tied, another replay is staged.
    The sliotar can be carried in a number of ways: caught in the hand and carried, struck in the air, or struck on the ground with the wooden stick (called hurl). The ball can be carried for not more than four steps.
    The most common reasons of fouling are: pushing, kicking, holding, jumping on the opponent, blocking the opponent with the hand or arm. The game after foul starts with a kick similar to fee kick in football. Players can be punished with yellow and red cards (similarly to football).
    The match is judged by 8 judges: one on the pitch, two on the line, one technical referee (only in international matches, his function is the same as in football) and four auxiliary judges, who stand two at each end of the field.

    helmet and crosshurls

  • Current status:

    Hurling is currently a practiced sport. The League has been existing since 1887. Interestingly, each Irish county has a hurling team. There is a similar game for women called camogie. Hurling and Gaelic football are two national sporting games of Ireland. Huring is seen as one of the fastest field sports on earth. In Poland, there is one hurling club called Cumman Warsaw, affiliated in the Gaelic Sports Association. Championships in category of 17 and 21-year-olds exist too. Recently, the development of this discipline has been seen in Australia, North America and Europe.

  • Contacts:

    The Gaelic Athletic Association
    Tel. +353 1 836 3222
    logo GAA

    Gaelic Football & Hurling Association of Australasia -

    Gaelic Football Hurling Association of Australasia


    Kilkenny’s Athletic Association website -

  • Sources of information :

    Daire Whelan, The Art of Hurling: Insights into Success from the Managers, The Mercier Press Ltd, 2017
    Diarmuid O'Flynn, Hurling The Warrior Game, Collins Press, 2011
    Great Moments in Hurling, 2017
    King Seamus J.,The Little Book of Hurling, Hardcover, 2014
    King, Seamus J., A History of Hurling (second ed.). Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 2005
    Paul Rouse The Hurlers: The First All-Ireland Championship and the Making of Modern Hurling, Penguin Ireland, 2018
    Ralph Riegel, Three Kings Cork . Kilkenny . Tipperary.The Battle for Hurling Supremacy, O'Brien Press, 2008



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