Hurling, played mainly in Ireland, can claim to be even older than shinty and may date back as much as 4,000 years. It’s also said to be the fastest game played on grass. One thing is for sure though; it has elements of many other games and requires formidable skill and not a little courage to play.

Hurling has some similarities to shinty but with several important differences. Both sports use a wooden stick – a hurley or caman in Irish - to hit a hard ball into an opponent’s goal nets. In hurling though, points can also be scored if the ball passes over the crossbar and between two rugby post-type uprights. There are also 15 players per team rather than 12 and the stick has a broader, more flattened end than a shinty caman.

There are complex rules governing how the ball may be carried and passed and also how an opposing player can be tackled. It can all be very confusing to the first time spectator and also explains why no fewer than eight officials are required to oversee a match. The sport is regulated by the Gaelic Athletic Association, which was founded in 1884.

The highlight of the hurling calendar is the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Final, played in Dublin in August and attended by a staggering 82,300 people in 2018. To put that in context, as a percentage of the total population that would be like 5.6 million Americans turning up to watch the Super Bowl.

A game called Camogie, which is very similar to Hurling, is played by women.


Gaelic Athletic Association