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9.30.2020

Hurling

Top Hurling Sportsbooks for Irish Players
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Sports fans have a knack for picking up most rules as they watch or play, for example with the rules of play in football, tennis and golf this is possible as they're relatively simple to follow. This is not the case with Hurling, which can seem seriously confusing to those that have never come across the game before. 

The game that is native to Ireland and one of the country’s proud Gaelic games, hurling is linked in many ways to another sport covered on these pages, gaelic football.

The two sports are played on the same field, use the same goals and also match up when it comes to the number of players in the teams and even a lot of the slang terms used when commentating both sports. We've also found many links to the Scottish sport of shinty.

In hurling the players use hurls to hit a ball, known as a sliotar, into the opposition team’s goal. It is a physical game, with players getting no more protection than the plastic helmet that covers the head and has a face guard.


Bets

Hurling is typically an immensely competitive sport, with free-flowing and high-scoring games usual. That can make it a tricky sport to bet on, though the following types of bets are what you’ll want to consider:

  • Outrights – Which team do you think will win a given tournament? This is the equivalent of betting on the winner of Wimbledon or the World Cup
  • Match Betting – Bet on whether you think the home team or the away team will win or whether the match will end in a draw. Usually this is denoted as 1X2 betting, with 1 being the home team, X the draw and 2 the away side
  • Handicap Betting – If you think one team is a runaway favourite then you can give them a handicap of, say, -4 points ahead of the game. This will give you better value that a straight match win
  • Winning Margin – How many points will the winning team win by is the question you need an answer two, betting on the margin of victory here
  • 1st Goal & Result – This is a bet on which team will score the 1st goal and what the result of the match will be

Obviously that’s not an exhaustive list of bet types, but they’re the most popular ones you’ll want to consider.


History 

When it comes to discussing the origins of hurling it is important to differentiate between any generic bat and ball game and the sport that we know of today.

Some believe that hurling is older than the history of Ireland itself, dating back to the time before Christianity came to be and was brought to the island by the Celts more than 2,000 years ago. The one thing that we can say with any sense of definitiveness is that there are references to the sport in early Irish law, which is known as Brehon law, that date back to the 5th century.

In a book imaginatively entitled ‘A History of Hurling’, Seamus King references stories passed down the generations about hurling that date back as far as 1200 BCE and talk of the sport being played in County Meath.

The Seanchás Mór is a commentary on the Brehon law and describes how the son of a king was allowed to have his hurley stick dipped in bronze, whilst lesser men were only allowed to have theirs dipped in copper. The main point being that it is a sport that dates back thousands of years, the exact origins of which have as much to do with folklore as reality.


The Game

The more that the game of Southern Ireland was played the more that there was a desire to formalise the rules that were played. An attempt was made in the wake of the formation of the Irish Hurling Union by students at Trinity College in Dublin in 1879.

They had a specific aim, which was to come up with a set of rules that could be used by all clubs, with the hope that it would ‘foster that manly and noble game of hurling in this, its native country’. Though it didn’t work in practice, it did make clear the need for standardised rules that could be used by hurling players throughout Ireland.

In 1884 the Gaelic Athletic Association was created with the specific aim of promoting sports that were traditional to Ireland. The GAA’s founder, Michael Cusack, wanted to write down the rules of the game that he’d played in County Clare when he was a child, simplifying them to make them easier for others to understand.

That game was, of course, iomán, which was more like hurling than the game of camán played in the North. He wanted to promote the new sport in order to give people a sense of pride in Irish nationalism, creating the Celtic Times to help him with that.


The Pitch 

Fans of rugby might feel as though they’d seen a hurling pitch before, with the ground that the sport is played on boasting similarities to the English sport. It is rectangular and typically measure between 130 and 145 metres in length and 80 to 90 metres in width.

At both ends of the grass pitch you’ll find goals that are shaped like an H, thanks to the lower part that looks akin to a football goal and with posts coming out the top of it similar to those used in rugby.

The posts are 6.5 metres away from each other and climb around 6 or 7 metres up, inked by the crossbar that is 2.5 metres from the ground. It is the same goal that is used in Gaelic football matches, complete with a net on the lower half. Elsewhere on the pitch there are lines marked out 14, 21 and 65 yards from the end of the pitch, with a smaller and larger rectangle surrounding the goal.


Teams

Hurling teams feature 15 players on each, which are made up of the following positions:

  • Goalkeeper
  • 3 full-backs
  • 3 half-backs
  • 2 midfielders
  • 3 half-forwards
  • 3 full-forwards

The squad contains between 24 and 30 players, though only 5 substitutions are allowed per game. In modern times an additional substitution has been allowed in cases where blood has been spilled by a player on the pitch.

The Equipment 

There are 2 pieces equipment used in hurling - Typically made of ash wood, the stick used by players is typically between 24 to 36 inches long and has a bulbous end. Hurleys used by goalkeepers have a bulbous end, which is known as the bas, twice the size of the other players.

The ball used in in hurling maintains the name of the earlier form of the game played in the South of Ireland and is known as a sliotar. It is somewhere between 69 and 72 millimetres in diameter, weighing between 110 and 120 grams. It has a cork interior and a leather exterior, boasting the ability to travel at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour when hit well.

The speed that the ball travels at is part of the reason that a rule change was introduced in 2010 to mean that all players must wear a helmet with a face guard. The rule applies to all levels of the game and was a decision taken by the GAA in the hope of reducing the number of injuries suffered by hurlers.

Infractions 

Hurling is a physical game, with players able to tackle using their sticks as long as they don’t strike with the hurley. Accepted tackling forms include blocking, hooking and side-pulling.

Referees are in charge of re-starting games and of maintaining discipline, issue yellow cards and red cards as they see fit. They are assisted by 2 linesmen, 2 umpires at each end of the pitch and sideline officials at inter-county games.

Referees will award technical fouls if any of the following offences are committed:

  • Picking the ball up off the ground instead of flicking it up
  • Slashing down (chopping) on an opponent’s hurley
  • Shifting the ball from hand to hand
  • Throwing the ball instead of slapping it with an open hand
  • Travelling more than 4 steps with the ball in the hand instead of on the hurley
  • Catching the ball 3 times consecutively without the ball having touched the ground
  • Scoring a goal by a hand-pass
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