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Hurling FAQ

What is hurling? What is camogie? How old is hurling? Look no further! Get answers to all your hurling-related questions here.

San Diego West Coast Sevens – Hurling. Photo by Earnie Grafton

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Select one of the hurling categories below:

Hurling Basics

Hurling Equipment

Hurling Gameplay

Gaining Possession in Hurling

Defensive Play In Hurling

Passing in Hurling

Scoring in Hurling

Maintaining Possession in Hurling

Hurling Basics

What is hurling?

Hurling is a 3,000 year-old Irish stick sport. It is the fastest field sport in the world, with the ball being hit at speeds up to 112 mph. Hurling is the national sport of Ireland, but it is played all over the world. In North America, there are 170+ hurling clubs.

To learn more about hurling, go to What Is Hurling.

To view the full rules of camogie, see Rules of Hurling (Page 39 onwards).

Hurling is fast-paced like lacrosse, requires the same level of hand-eye coordination as baseball, and has the toughness of hockey, all in one sport!

What is camogie?

Camogie is an Irish stick sport played by women that’s similar to hurling, with slight differences in the rules and equipment. The term camogie was first used in 1903 by Tadhg Ua Donnchadha.

Compared to hurling, camogie uses a size 4 sliotar, which is slightly smaller than size 5 sliotar used in hurling. In addition, a camogie player can’t deliberately shoulder their opponent.

To view the full rules of camogie, see Rules of Camogie.

Camogie All-Stars Exhibition Match in New York City, November 2019

What are hurling matches?

Just like many sports, hurling matches are played as part of a league, championship, or as a challenge. A challenge match is another term for a friendly match. At intercounty level, a hurling match consists of two 35 minute halves. At club level, each half is 30 minutes.

How big is a hurling pitch?

A hurling field is roughly twice the width and 1.4 times the size of a soccer field. A hurling pitch measures a maximum of 145 metres (159 yards) in length and 90 metres (98 yards) in width.

hurling field dimensions
Hurling Field Dimensions

How old is hurling?

Hurling is more than 3000 years old. Hurling is considered to be the oldest sport in the world.

Ice hockey traces its roots back to hurling. In Donegal in Ireland, the lakes would freeze over in winter. People adjusted to this weather and played hurling on ice during the winter. When the Irish moved to Canada in the 1840s, this “hurling on ice” concept was brought with them. Soon after, ice hockey was born

Are hurling players paid?

No, hurling players are not paid. Hurling is an amateur game and most players have full-time jobs in various professions, such as teachers, farmers, bankers, etc.

Hurling Equipment

What equipment do I need to play hurling?

The basic equipment you’ll need to play hurling is a hurl (the stick), a sliotar (the ball), and a helmet.

Hurling Starter Pack Reynolds Hurley Mycro Helmet Sliotar Play Hurling
Hurling equipment

What is the ball in hurling called?

The ball used in hurling is called a sliotar (pronounced “slit-ter”). It is made from stitched leather with a polymer core and is similar to the shape of a baseball.

Championship Yellow Sliotars Size 5 Play Hurling logo
Sliotar (ball) used in hurling

What size sliotar do I use?

There are two different sliotar sizes for adults, based on whether you’re playing hurling or camogie. Hurling sliotars are slightly larger than camogie sliotars. Hurling players use a size 5 sliotar and camogie players use a size 4 silotar.

For children’s hurling, there are three different sizes for different age groups:

Age 10-12: Smart Touch

Age 8-10: Quick Touch

Under Age 8: First Touch

What is the difference between a white and yellow sliotar?

There are no differences between a white and yellow sliotar, other than the colour. Yellow sliotars are the same quality, weight, and size as the traditional white ones. In 2021, yellow sliotars were made the standard colour for inter-county matches.

What is the stick in hurling called?

The stick used in hurling is called a hurl or a hurley. The shape of the stick is long with a flat, broad base for striking and balancing the ball.

It is a similar shape to a field hockey stick, only with a flatter, bigger base.

What is hurling - New York GAA at the GAA World Games 2019
New York GAA at the GAA World Games

Is it hurl or hurley? Which term is correct?

There is some debate over whether the hurling stick is called a hurl or a hurley, but both are technically correct.

The term “hurl” is generally used by people from the Dublin-area. The term “hurley” is generally used more widely across the other counties in Ireland.

What size hurl do I need?

This size hurl or hurley a player needs depends in part on player preference, but a good rule of thumb is for the hurl to be the length from the ground to a player’s wrist bone.

Choosing the correct Hurley size – Source: The Camogie Association

The most common adult hurl sizes are 32 and 34, depending on player height. The ideal weight of the hurl depends on a player’s position. Defensive players may prefer heavier and longer hurls, so they can hit the ball farther with a strike. Offensive players may prefer lighter and shorter hurls, so they run easier with the ball and can have a faster, wristy swing to score.

What is a hurling stick made of?

A hurl or hurley is traditionally made from ash wood, but in recent years hurls are also made from composite materials, fibreglass, and most recently from bamboo. Modern day hurls now have a bigger bas that follows a blend of the Tipperary and Kilkenny cuts.

How do I hold a hurl?

When holding a hurl, your dominant hand should always be placed on top and be used to power your swing. Your non-dominant hand should be placed directly below your dominant hand in a lock position and be used to control the direction of your strike. Your foot placement should be the reverse of your hand placement, where your non-dominant foot is forward as the planted foot.

This is the exact opposite to the way you’d hold a baseball bat, with your non-dominant hand on the top and your dominant hand on the bottom. It’s important to be cognizant of this difference if you’re more familiar with the baseball stance.

Correct way to hold a hurley with dominant hand on top
Correct way to hold a hurley

Hurling Gameplay

How is a hurling match played?

A hurling match is played between two teams with 15 players either side. A match is divided into two 35 minute halves. The objective of a hurling match is to move the sliotar up the field to score through an H-shaped goal post. There are two ways to score: in the net for 1 goal (worth 3 points) or through the upright posts for 1 point.

Unlike soccer and basketball, players take their positions on both sides of the halfway mark. Hurling players line out on the field on both sides of the halfway mark in a 3-3-2-3-3 formation: 1 goalkeeper, 3 backs, 3 half-backs, 2 midfielders, 3 half-forwards, and 3 forwards.

A hurling match begins with a throw-in where two sets of two players from either team compete shoulder-to-shoulder for the sliotar which is thrown in at ground level by the referee at the halfway mark. The ball can be played on the ground or lifted in the air bringing possession of the ball up the field through a combination of passing and striking. The first two players are tackling for the ball in a shoulder-to-shoulder clash and if they miss the ball, the two players behind them will tackle for the ball. The player who gains possession from the throw-in can maintain possession by either carrying the ball forward or passing to another player.

A hurling match is played with any combination of hurling skills, such as solo runs, hurl passes, hand passes, ground strikes, and many other allowed moves to drive the ball up the field.

When a team is on the attack with the sliotar, a player can score a point by hitting the ball over the crossbar, or beat the goalkeeper by hitting the ball under the crossbar, which is worth 3 points. At the end of a game, the team who collects the most overall goals and points is the winning team.

What are the competitive levels in hurling?

Hurling leagues are categorised by age in youth level, and by skill in adult level. Players can compete at club level and inter-county level.

Players can compete in three tournament types:

  1. Championship, e.g. All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
  2. League
  3. Shield

Youth leagues *generally start from under 6 up until under 16, with a few specifics*:

  • To compete in Under 13, players must be under 13 and over 9 years old.
  • To compete in Under 15, players must be under 15 and over 11 years old.
  • To compete at Minor level, players must be under 18 and over 13 years old.
  • To compete in Under 21, players must be under 21 and over 16 years old.

*these specifics can vary from region to region and by local demand, for example, if there are too few registered children under 6 years old, a club may not have an under 6 team.

For adults, players can compete at three levels:

  • Senior – this is the highest level players can compete at. Senior is hurling’s equivalent to playing as a Major League Baseball player.
  • Intermediate – this is a step above Junior hurling, but slightly below Senior hurling, where players are more skilled than Junior hurlers, but not skilled enough for Senior. However, some clubs don’t have enough players to field an intermediate team, so it’s not always an option to play at this level.
  • Junior – this level is for players who haven’t gained a place at Senior or Intermediate level. Junior teams can be divided into Junior A, Junior B, Junior C, and Junior D.

How many players are there in a hurling match?

In Ireland, there are two teams with 15 players either side.

On a club level, officially there must be 13-15 players either side.

Player count also varies worldwide. For example, in the USA, officially there must be 11-13 players on either side. In mainland Europe, officially there must be 9 players on either side.

What are some of the player positions in hurling? How do teams line out on the field in hurling?

Hurling player formation is as follows for each team:

  • 1 goalkeeper
  • 3 backs – right corner back, left corner back, full back
  • 3 half-backs
  • 2 midfielders
  • 3 half-forwards
  • 3 forwards – right corner forward, left corner forward, full forward

How long is a hurling match?

A hurling match at Senior level is made up of two 35 minute halves, lasting for a total of 70 minutes.

This time varies worldwide. For example, North American rules can differ by the type of tournament. USGAA league matches are made up of two 30 minute halves, lasting a total of 60 minutes.

In the USA, baseball fields and American football fields are often used for gameplay, so you’ll see 7-a-side tournaments popping up to adjust to this new pitch environment. 7-a-side tournaments are often 15 minutes each half.

Gaining Possession in Hurling

In hurling, it’s against the rules to pick the ball directly from the ground. This rule is for safety of a player, as an opposing player could swing on the sliotar and injure another players hand. Therefore, roll and jab lifts are in place for this specific reason. In this section, we also discuss other methods for gaining possession of the ball during gameplay.

What is a roll lift in hurling?

A roll lift is performed by placing the hurl on top of the sliotar and rolling it over and under to lift the sliotar off the ground and into a players hand.

How To Roll Lift The Ball In Hurling

What is a jab lift in hurling?

A jab lift is used as a faster means to pick up the sliotar, usually while running. The sliotar is lifted with the toe of the hurl and caught in the hand.

How To Jab Lift The Ball In Hurling

What is an overhead catch in hurling?

An overhead catch is a method of catching the sliotar in the air and using the hurl to protect your hand from the sticks of opposing players.

Hurling San Diego West Coast Sevens
San Diego West Coast Sevens – Hurling. Photo by Earnie Grafton

Defensive Play In Hurling

What does a hook mean in hurling?

A hook is a defensive tactic where a player attempts to block a full revolution of a hurl swing with their hurl from behind the other player.

What does “mark your man” mean in hurling?

“Your man” is the person you are marking on defense. If you are a defender, stand as close as possible to your marker to block the forward playing the ball. Ideally, you want to be shoulder to shoulder and behind your marker on the goalside as a defender. If you are a forward, you’ll want to be free from your man and in front of your man on the non-goalside. Your challenge as a forward is to break free from your marker and be on the goalside of your marker. However, a defender who is doing their job correctly won’t allow you to do this which is why you’ll often find yourself on the non-goalside of your marker.

Passing in Hurling

What does a “hurl pass” mean in hurling?

A hurl pass is when a player shortens their grip on a hurl and strikes the sliotar out of their hand to a nearby player.

What does a “hand pass” mean in hurling?

A hand pass is when a player throws the sliotar slightly up in the air and slaps it forward with their hand.

What does a “ground strike” mean in hurling?

A ground strike is when a player hits the sliotar on the ground.

Are you allowed to throw the ball in hurling?

You cannot directly throw the ball from your hand. Instead, a player must perform a hand-pass, which is to throw the sliotar slightly up in the air and bat it forward with the same hand.

What does poc mean in hurling?

A poc is a hit or a strike of the sliotar.

A poc out (or puck out) is performed when a goalkeeper hits the sliotar in the air out of their hand to reintroduce it back into gameplay after a score or when the sliotar has gone wide (i.e. out of bounds).

A poc around (or puck around) is a casual hit-around between a group of players, in a non-gameplay setting.

A poc fada (or puck fada) is a competition where players compete to hit the sliotar as far as they can to progress the ball through a 5 km outdoor course. The player who takes the fewest strikes to complete the course wins.

What is a “sideline cut” in hurling?

A sideline cut is when the ball is hit off of the ground from the sideline back into play by the team who did not lose possession of the ball in the previous play.

Scoring in Hurling

How do you score in hurling?

The objective of the hurling is to progress the ball up the field to score one of two ways through an H-shaped goal post: through the upright posts for 1 point, or in the net for 1 goal, which is worth 3 points.

How to read a hurling scoreboard?

After watching a game, you may be a bit confused about how to interpret a scoreboard in hurling.

A score like Team A 3-15 to Team B 2-25 is read as 3 goals and 15 points to 2 goals and 25 points.

1 goal is worth 3 points, so 3 goals would be a total of 9 points.

Team A’s score is 9+15 for a total of 24 points.

Team B’s score is 6+25 for a total of 31 points.

Although Team A scored 3 goals, Team B made up for it in points and won the match.

What is “the square” in hurling?

The square is a small rectangular area surrounding the goal where the goalkeeper has a safe zone.

What does a “square ball” mean in hurling?

A square ball is when an offensive player steps into the inner-square before the ball does. When this occurs, gameplay pauses and a free is awarded to the defending team. The square ball rule exists to prevent forwards from

What is a “free” in hurling?

A free (also known as a free-in or a free-poc) is when the sliotar is lifted from the ground with the hurl and hit without being touched by the hand. A free normally is awarded after a foul by the non-offending team to restart gameplay.

What is a 65 in hurling?

A 65 is awarded when a defending player hits the ball out of their own end line, the ball is brought back up the field to the 65 metre line parallel to the position where the ball was out of play.

Can a players score with a hand pass in hurling?

No, a player cannot score with a hand pass. The sliotar must be struck with the hurl in order to score.

Maintaining Possession in Hurling

What is a “solo run” or “soloing” in hurling?

A solo run is when a player balances a sliotar on the bas of the hurl as they move down the field with possession of the ball.

How long can you solo run in hurling?

There are no limits to how long you can solo run with sliotar when playing hurling. Generally, players solo run up until they get tackled and the ball gets dislodged or the ball somehow gets dislodged from position.

How long can you hold the ball in hurling? How many times can you catch the ball in hurling?

A player can hold the sliotar in their hand for up to two sets of 4 steps each before they must release it from their possession.

How are penalties taken in hurling?

A penalty is awarded to the opposing team if a foul is committed inside the 14m line.

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