Hurling

Often called the fastest game on grass, hurling is the national sport of Ireland. Fifteen players comprise a team for this stick-and-ball field sport that showcases endurance, creativity and athleticism.

From the tournament-oriented Division B and C squads to the more relaxed City League, there are many ways to become a Gaels hurler. The team has enjoyed much success at the national level in the past; most recently capturing the Division B Shield at the 2010 National Tournament in Chicago.

For more information about Seattle Gaels Hurling, contact the hurling manager.

What is Hurling?

Hurling is a game similar to hockey, in that it is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. It is Europe’s oldest field game. When the Celts came to Ireland as the last ice age was receding, they brought with them a unique culture, their own language, music, script and unique pastimes. One of these pastimes was a game now called hurling. It features in Irish folklore to illustrate the deeds of heroic mystical figures and it is chronicled as a distinct Irish pastime for at least 2,000 years.

The stick, or “hurley” (called camán in Irish – pronounced “kay-maan”) is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The ball or “sliothar” (pronounced “slit-er”) is similar in size to a hockey ball but has raised ridges.

Rules

Playing field

Hurling is played on a pitch 137 – 145 m long and 80 – 90 m wide. The goals at each end of the field are formed by two posts, which are usually 6 m high, set 6.4 m apart, and connected 2.44 m above the ground by a crossbar. A net extending in back of the goal is attached to the crossbar and lower goal posts. The same pitch is used for Gaelic football; the GAA, which organises both sports, decided this to facilitate dual usage. Lines are marked at 13 m, 20 m and 65 m and 45 m in gaelic football from each end-line. Shorter pitches and smaller goals are used by under-13s and younger.

A standard hurling pitch

Teams

Teams consist of fifteen players and they line out as below:

Gaelic Pitch.png

The panel is made up of 24-30 players and 5 substitutions are allowed per game. No exceptions are ever made.

Timekeeping

Senior inter-county matches last 70 minutes (35 minutes per half). All other matches last 60 minutes (30 minutes per half). For age groups of under-13 or lower, games may be shortened to 50 minutes. Timekeeping is at the discretion of the referee who adds on stoppage time at the end of each half.

If a knockout game finishes in a draw, a replay is played. If a replay finishes in a draw, 20 minutes extra time is played (10 minutes per half). If the game is still tied, another replay is played.

In club competitions, replays are increasingly not used due to the fixture backlogs caused. Instead, extra time is played after a draw, and if the game is still level after that it will go to a replay.

Technical fouls

The following are considered technical fouls (“fouling the ball”):

  • Picking the ball directly off the ground (instead it must be flicked up with the hurley or the foot)
  • Throwing the ball (instead it must be “hand-passed”: slapped with the open hand)
  • Going more than 4 steps with the ball in the hand (it may be carried indefinitely on the hurley though)
  • Catching the ball three times in a row without it touching the ground (touching the hurley does not count)
  • Putting the ball from one hand to the other
  • Hand-passing a goal
  • Throwing the hurley
  • Square ball: If, at the moment the ball enters “the square” (the small rectangle surrounding the goal), there is already an attacking player inside, a free out is awarded

Scoring

Scoring is achieved by sending the sliotar (ball) between the opposition’s goal posts. The posts, which are at each end of the field, are “H” posts as in rugby football but with a net under the crossbar as in soccer. The posts are 6.4 m apart and the crossbar is 2.44 m above the ground.

If the ball goes over the crossbar, a point is scored and a white flag is raised by an umpire. If the ball goes below the crossbar, a goal, worth three points, is scored, and a green flag is raised by an umpire. The goal is guarded by a goalkeeper. Scores are recorded in the format {goal total} – {point total}. For example, the 1997 All-Ireland final finished: Clare 0-20 Tipperary 2-13. Thus Clare won by “twenty points to two thirteen” (20 to 19). 2-0 would be referred to as “two goals”, never “two zero”. 0-0 is said “no score”.

Tackling

Players may be tackled but not struck by a one handed slash of the stick; exceptions are two handed jabs and strikes. Jersey-pulling, wrestling, pushing and tripping are all forbidden. There are several forms of acceptable tackling, the most popular being:

  • the block, where one player attempts to smother an opposing player’s strike by trapping the ball between his hurley and the opponent’s swinging hurl;
  • the hook, where a player approaches another player from a rear angle and attempts to catch the opponent’s hurley with his own at the top of the swing; and
  • the side pull, where two players running together for the sliotar will collide at the shoulders and swing together to win the tackle and “pull” (name given to swing the hurley) with extreme force.

Restarting play

  • The match begins with the referee throwing the sliotar in between the four midfielders on the halfway line.
  • After an attacker has scored or put the ball wide of the goals, the goalkeeper may take a puckout from the hand at the edge of the small square. All players must be beyond the 20 m line.
  • After a defender has put the ball wide of the goals, an attacker may take a “65” from the 65 m line level with where the ball went wide. It must be taken by lifting and striking. However, the ball must not be taken into the hand but struck whilst the ball is lifted.
  • After a player has put the ball over the sideline, the other team may take a sideline cut at the point where the ball left the pitch. It must be taken from the ground.
  • After a player has committed a foul, the other team may take a free at the point where the foul was committed. It must be taken by lifting and striking in the same style as the “65″.
  • After a defender has committed a foul inside the Square (large rectangle), the other team may take a penalty from the ground from the centre of the 20 m line. Only the goalkeeper and two defenders may guard the goals. It must be taken by lifting and striking.
  • If many players are struggling for the ball and no side is able to capitalize or gain control of the sliotar the referee may choose to throw the ball in between two opposing players.

This is also known as a Clash.

Officials

A hurling match is watched over by eight officials:

  • The referee
  • Two linesmen
  • Sideline Official/Standby Linesman (inter-county games only)
  • Four umpires (two at each end)

The referee is responsible for starting and stopping play, recording the score, awarding frees and issuing penalty cards to players after offences.

Linesmen are responsible for indicating the direction of line balls to the referee and also for conferring with the referee. The fourth official is responsible for overseeing substitutions, and also indicating the amount of stoppage time (signalled to him by the referee) and the players substituted using an electronic board. The umpires are responsible for judging the scoring. They indicate to the referee whether a shot was: wide (spread both arms), a 65 m puck (raise one arm), a point (wave white flag), or a goal (wave green flag).

Contrary to popular belief within the association, all officials are not obliged to indicate “any misdemeanours” to the referee, but are in fact only permitted to inform the referee of violent conduct they have witnessed which has occurred without the referees knowledge. A linesman/umpire is not permitted to inform the referee of technical fouls such as a “Third time in the hand”, where a player catches the ball for a third time in succession after soloing or an illegal pick up of the ball. Such decisions can only be made at the discretion of the referee.

Helmets

From 1 January 2010 the wearing of helmets with faceguards became compulsory for hurlers at all levels. This saw senior players follow the regulations already introduced in 2009 at minor and under 21 grades. The GAA hope to significantly reduce the number of injuries by introducing the compulsory wearing of helmets with full faceguards, both in training and matches. Hurlers of all ages, including those at nursery clubs when holding a hurley in their hand, must wear a helmet and faceguard at all times. Match officials will be obliged to stop play if any player at any level appears on the field of play without the necessary standard of equipment.

The rules of Hurling are available in PDF format at the GAA website.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Hurling, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.

 

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