If your fact-finding mission about hurling includes watching a match, breathless and eyes bugged out while you try to absorb everything going on, then it’ll be a long while before you learn everything you need to know. There are a few things that everyone who’s ever played the game hold true in their hearts—things no fact-finding mission could ever erase.
- Once you play hurling, no other sport will suffice.
- Sure, it looks dangerous. What’s the point of playing a sport that can’t get you killed?
- You’ll be made fun of for wearing protective gear other than the required helmet.
- A pint after training, matches, or a general puck around is required. REQUIRED.
Ask anyone who plays; they’ll back us up. And while this might convince you to give hurling (or camogie) a shot—and thank God, because that’s what this blog is all about—it still doesn’t give you the hard facts.
1. Hurling is about 3,000 years old.
Let’s consider the things that were going on in the world during the first years that hurling was played. The Iron Age. Ancient Greece. The Roman Empire. The Persian Empire after that. It’s even older than the recorded history of Ireland. If you’re looking for a sport that will impress your friends, you’ve found it.
2. A hurling pitch in Ireland can be as big as 158 yards by 98 yards.
Yeah, the pitch is huge, but that much flat, open space is hard to find here in the States, so we usually use American football or soccer fields. We also play with fewer people on teams. If we played with Ireland’s usual 15 a side, then there wouldn’t be enough room to run on the smaller fields here. In larger cities, such as Chicago and New York, the Irish populations are big enough to warrant full-sized fields and teams. For the most part, however, you’d get started on something much smaller here.
3. Protective gear really is sparse.
Imagine a sport this brutal played without any protective gear at all. That’s what happened for three thousand years. Before 2010, the hurley (stick) was the only protection a player could count on. Now, helmets are required. And, while you might get a little ribbing from your teammates for investing in additional protective gear, it’s never a bad idea to protect other parts of your body as well. (You may or may not want to click the link. Among other sports-related injuries, you’ll also be regaled with a tale about a shattered testicle.) Really. Wear the gear.
4. Even the best hurlers in Ireland play for free.
In this sport, glory is all you get. There isn’t a single professional hurler or camogie player in the world. These hurlers draw crowds in the tens of thousands, risk life and limb, and bring home enormous trophies to their home counties, all because they love the game that much.
Now, be honest with yourself. Wouldn’t you love to play a sport that inspires that kind of dedication? Wouldn’t you love to hit the pitch with your teammates and lose yourself in a sport that’s been three millennia in the making? Wouldn’t you love to finish off a day of Irish culture and sport with a cold beer and banter with your local hurling club?
You can. And if you reach out now, you WILL. If you’d prefer to check it all out before you join, that’s cool. Visit our Facebook page to see what we’re up to all the time. Come out and watch a puck around and get an introduction to the people, the equipment, and the game.
And remember, if you’re reading this but don’t live in Nashville, it’s not over yet. Google hurling in your city. There’s probably a club nearby. If there’s not, maybe it’s about time someone started one.