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 stick, or “hurley”, made from ash, is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The ball or “sliotar” is similar in size to a hockey ball.
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.
Gaelic Football is a field game which has developed as a distinct game similar to the progression of Australian Rules. The goalposts are the same shape as on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than a rugby one and slightly higher than a soccer one.
The ball used in Gaelic Football is round, slightly smaller than a soccer ball. It can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can be kicked or “hand-passed”, a striking motion with the hand or fist. After every four steps the ball must be either bounced or “solo-ed”, an action of dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand. You may not bounce the ball twice in a row. To score, you put the ball over the crossbar by foot or hand / fist for one point or under the crossbar and into the net by foot or the hand / fist in certain circumstances for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.
Both games are played on a pitch up to 145m long and 90m wide. Each team consists of 15 players, with a mixture of forwards, defenders and midfielders. Officials for the game comprise of a referee, two linesmen (to indicate when the ball leaves the field of play at the side and to mark ’45’ free kicks and four umpires (to signal scores, assist the referee in controlling the games, and to assist linesmen in positioning ’45′ frees).A goal is signalled by raising a green flag, placed to the left of the goal. A point is signalled by raising a white flag, placed to the right of goal. A ’45′ is signalled by the umpire raising his/her outside arm. A ‘square ball’, when a player scores having arrived in the ‘square’ prior to receiving the ball, is signalled by pointing at the small parallelogram.