By Dottie Wenger
In America, baseball season is in full “swing”. But do you know what the most popular sports are in Ireland? Hurling and Gaelic Football! These sports are both run by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), the largest sporting organization in Ireland.
What is Hurling? Hurling is a sport resembling field hockey. It’s played between two teams of fifteen players each. Players used a wooden axe-shaped stick called a hurley (or simply a hurl) to hit a small ball, called a sliotar (pronounced slither). The sliotar can be hit over the opposing team’s crossbar between the goalposts to score a point, or under the crossbar into a net guarded by a goalkeeper to score a goal, which is worth three points. For fun, the game is called ‘The Fastest Game on Grass” or “The Clash of the Ash,” because the hurleys are made of wood called Ash.
Check out: “How to Play Hurling” – a kids’ tutorial, on YouTube!
What is Gaelic Football? Called simply “Gaelic” or “Football” in Ireland, it’s really more similar to what we know as soccer in America. Like Hurling, Gaelic Football is played by two teams of 15 players each. It’s played on a rectangular-shaped grass field with H-shaped goals at each end. The object is to score by kicking or striking the ball with your hand and getting it through the goals. The team with the highest score at the end of the match wins. Players move the ball up the field by carrying, soloing (dropping and then toe-kicking the ball up into their hands), kicking and throwing it to their teammates.
Literature Highlights:All About Hurlingby Irene Barber. Non-fiction. Photos and text. Published by O’Brien Press. 32 pages.
Bernie Wins the Matchby Claire and Aidan Johnston. A children’s Gaelic Football rhyming storybook.
Trivia Corner: Although Hurling and Gaelic Football are the most popular sports in Ireland, do you know which Olympic sport has been Ireland’s most successful? Boxing!
*Dottie taught kindergarten and second grade for a total of thirty-two years, and she now handles marketing and promotions for Yorktown Service Plaza in Parma Heights. In her spare time, Dottie is a baker extraordinaire, and also enjoys participating in 5K events in order to offset collateral damage from the baking hobby. J She is married to John and has two sons, Daniel and Andrew Fowler, the latter of whom is very active in the Cleveland pipe band community.