Monday, August 20, 2007

8-20-07: Hurling

Have you ever heard of “hurling”? If you haven’t, then you are missing out. I was watching it on the Setanta network last night ‘til about 12:30AM, and it’s quite a sight for newcomers. Basically, it’s an old Gaelic (Irish) sport that’s a cross-breed of field hockey, lacrosse, handball, and rugby. It is played on a field similar to a soccer field, but with goal posts at each end like in football. The difference between football goalposts and hurling goals is that the lower part consists of a net, like in soccer or field hockey. The players use clubs to hit the ball (and other players “by accident”). To score, you can either hit the ball between the upper posts for 1 point, or hit it into the net for 3 points. There is a goaltender, but he DOESN’T WEAR ANY PADS.

Some players wear helmets, but those are the forwards. They are the guys who get really nasty, because it’s FULL CONTACT, like rugby. Guys are running into each other, trying to get to the ball, which is roughly the size of a baseball. From what I gathered, you can only pick the ball up with the stick, and you can carry it on the stick for as long as you want (I think). You can also catch the ball with your hand, and even toss it for short passes. Most of the time, guys just catch it and then whack it with the club. It’s pretty intense, and really fast-paced. I was watching a game between Limerick and Waterford. I’m pretty sure the game is only played in Ireland. I’d love to see a game live, but I don’t think I’d have any idea what was going on. I’ve seen it on TV before when I was a kid, and I’ve even seen it in a commercial. The fans went nuts. If you ever get the chance to see a game, please do. It’s one of those sports that is just crazy to see for the first time.

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