Hurling is a very unusual game that is recognized and played by countries all over the world. Hurling is Europe’s oldest game played on a field. It is thought to have been in existence for 2000 years. It is featured in Irish folklore and is depicted in art as being played by mystical figures.
Hurling is similar to the game of field hockey. It is played with a small ball called a sliotar and a wooden stick called a hurley or caman in Irish that is curved at the end. The game area is approximately 137 metres long and 82 metres wide. The goalposts in the game of hurling are similar to rugby goalposts, and slightly lower than the goalposts in soccer.
Each competing team consists of fifteen players which is more than most games that have teams. The hurling team has one goal keeper, three fullbacks, three halfbacks, two midfielders, three half-forwards and three full forwards. The players may interchange positions, but only at the consent of the referee, two linesmen and four umpires. These officials help the referee keep control of the game and call plays that the referee may miss.
Hurling players have an advantage over hockey players. While hockey players are never allowed to touch the ball with their hands, hurling players can carry the hurley for a maximum of four steps before putting the ball back into play on the ground. Side to side shouldering is also allowed, but body checking and shoulder charging are illegal attempts to gain the advantage.