Hurling is believed to be the world’s oldest field game. It features in Irish folklore to illustrate the deeds of heroic mystical figures and it is chronicled as a distinct Irish pastime for at least 2,000 years.
The Celtic legal system, the Brehon Laws, provided for compensation for hurling accidents and provisions were also made for cases of deliberate injury, or even death, as a result of Hurling. The game was outlawed in the 12th century after the occupation by the Normans, but it survived and even flourished up to the early 19th century mainly due to patronisation by the landlords.
By the time of An Gorta Mór (1846–49), Hurling had declined dramatically and was in danger of dying out completely but for a number of strongholds. However, Dublin Castle itself admitted that by the late 1850s, Hurling was being played all over Munster and records of the game survive in Donegal and Down and Kilkenny and Longford.
The hurley (camán) is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The sliotar is similar in size to a hockey ball but has raised ridges.
Hurling is played on a pitch that can be up to 145m long and 90m long. The goalposts are similar to those used on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than in rugby and slightly higher than a soccer one.
You may strike the ball on the ground, or in the air. Unlike hockey, you may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it for not more than four steps in the hand. After those steps you may bounce the ball on the hurley and back to the hand, but you are forbidden to catch the ball more than twice. To get around this, one of the skills is running with the ball balanced on the hurley To score, you put the ball over the crossbar with the hurley or under the crossbar and into the net by the hurley for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.
Each team is made up of 15 players with match officials and scoring values the same as in Gaelic Football. Seventy minutes, plus injury time…
Kilkenny v Tipperary, Croke Park, 3.30pm |Familiar foes are final bound again. Between them they have 63 All-Ireland titles – Kilkenny were last victorious in 2015, Tipp’s previous title came a year later. Between the pair they have played 20 finals up to now, with the Premier leading 11-8, with one draw | In all, Kilkenny have reached 66 finals, winning 36, losing 26 and drawing 4 | Tipperary have appeared in 41 deciders, winning 27, losing 12 and drawing 2.
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