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Hurling Rules As Understood by An American

Learn about hurling rules before going to a GAA match in Ireland. Draw analogies between the Irish sport of hurling and American sports.
I'm an avid sports fan.  My favorites are hockey and American football.  

Now that we're living in Dublin, I'm intrigued by the Irish sport of hurling and decided to catch the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) All-Ireland Senior Championship between Kilkenny and Tipperary at The 51 Bar, a local pub, with several big screens on which to watch the game.

This biggest hurling matches of the year take place in Croke Park in Dublin, an 80,000 seat stadium that fills to the brim with cheering fans from all across Ireland. 

Hurling rules: referee throws a flag at Croke Park

Want to know the best part about hurling and other Irish sports? All the athletes are amateurs. They play for the love of the sport rather than for a big salary, fame, and glory.
Understanding hurling rules: Croke Park
I found the hurling rules to be relatively easy to understand and follow.  

I thought of it as a bit of a mash-up between several different sports including baseball, basketball, soccer, American football, hockey, and golf.

Hurling Rules of Scoring

Hurling also requires fans to have solid math skills. The scores are reported as X-Y where X is the number of goals scored and Y is the number of points.  

Players get one point for getting the ball through the uprights and a goal for getting the ball past the goalie.  One goal is worth three points.

Here's my assessment of hurling relative to sports that Americans will be more familiar with:

Why Hurling is a Bit like Baseball

  • the sliotar looks a bit like a baseball
  • the players sometimes swing the hurley (hurling stick) like a bat
  • the 'bench' is called the dugout

Why Hurling is a Bit Like Basketball

  • If a player commits a foul, the other side is awarded the equivalent of a free throw

Why Hurling is a Bit like Soccer

  • The field is huge
  • the goal is gapingly large
  • the goaltender wears a different colored uniform than the other players
  • the referee can give a player a yellow card or a black card for bad behavior
  • The clock doesn't stop for injuries or the ball going out of bounds
  • The sliotar cannot be picked up from the ground with a player's hand

Why Hurling is a Bit like American Football

  • There are two ways to score (sending the ball past the goalkeeper (1 goal = 3 points) or through the uprights (1 point))
  • The uprights look an awful lot like goal posts

Why Hurling is a Bit like Ice Hockey

  • The players wear hockey-style helmets
  • The hurley is taped up and shaped a bit like a hockey stick
  • The players advance and pass the ball using their stick
  • The opposing sides are prone to fighting just like on the ice

Why Hurling is a Bit like Golf

  • The players occasionally wind up and drive the ball a long distance through the air.  Fore!
Overall, we really enjoy the fast paced sport of hurling and always enjoy catching a game at Croke Park. Did you know that you can take a Croke Park tour?

We were actually in Kilkenny yesterday (more on that day trip later) so felt a bit bad when the Cats fell short today.  

Then again, I've always had a soft spot for the underdogs and since Kilkenny had won four championships in a row, I was rooting for Tipperary deep down.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Hurling Rules As Understood by An American
Hurling Rules As Understood by An American
Learn about hurling rules before going to a GAA match in Ireland. Draw analogies between the Irish sport of hurling and American sports.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog