Understanding Hurling - An American's Perspective

I'm an avid sports fan.  My favorites are hockey and American football.  Now that we're living in Dublin, I'm intrigued by hurling and decided to catch the 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.
I found hurling 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 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.  1 goal = 3 points.

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


  • the ball looks a bit like a baseball
  • the players sometimes swing the hurley like a bat
  • the 'bench' is called the dugout
  • If a player commits a foul, the other side is awarded the equivalent of a free throw
  • 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 for bad behavior
  • the clock doesn't stop for injuries or the ball going out of bounds
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
  • 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
  • The players occasionally wind up and drive the ball a long distance through the air.  Fore!
Overall, we really enjoyed the fast paced match and look forward to catching a game at Croke Park next season.  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: Understanding Hurling - An American's Perspective
Understanding Hurling - An American's Perspective
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog
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