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Watch Out Lacrosse, Hurling Is Storming The Gates.

What’s hurling? Who knows, but it’s trying to take over lacrosse’s corner as the fastest game on two feet.

AIG Fenway Hurling Classic and Irish Festival Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images


While we were all enjoying the post-Philadelphia Big BBQ glow, following the coaching carousel, and getting ready for fall ball, hurling was scaling the walls, unlocking the gates, and storming our castle.

What do I mean? I mean that hurling is making a move and trying to supplant lacrosse as the fastest game on two feet. I tried to warn everyone back in July that we should keep an eye on this quirky Irish sport. However, much like the Trojan priest Laocoön who tried to warn his boys in Troy against bringing in that huge wooden horse structure, my warning fell on deaf ears.

Now I fear it might be too late, as it looks like hurling is starting to get a foothold in Canada. This recent article from the University of Toronto’s The Varsity is the clearest indication yet that lacrosse’s corner as the fastest game on two feet is in jeopardy and we need to take this threat seriously.

The thud of a lacrosse ball’s impact with the boards at a box lacrosse game is thunderous. It reverberates in your chest, as the crack of a baseball striking a bat on a crisp October night slices through silence with the ability to bring 50,000 people to their feet.

For three millennia, amateur athletes have engaged in hurling, a sport that combines the frightening speed of lacrosse with the sound and excitement of a ball coming off a bat.

Hurling is an ancient Irish sport of Gaelic origin, and it is considered the fastest sport on earth. The cork and leather ball, called a ‘sliotar’, travels off the stick, or a ‘hurley’, at upwards of 100/mph.

After nominal EXTENSIVE research on hurling, I feel that I can comfortably say I’m an expert on this menace. Here’s everything I’ve found on hurling:

A. It’s over 3,000 years old.
B. It’s of Gaelic & Irish origin.
C. In 2007 a village of 7,500 people saw it’s population swell to 53,000 as fans from all over Ireland came for the hurling national championship game. Another 500K watched on TV. Given the size of Ireland Forbes Magazine said that it was “the rough equivalent of 30 million Americans watching a regional lacrosse game.”
D. Here’s a video of some hurling action.

E. (From the Univ. of Toronto article)

Players must wear helmets, which only became mandatory in 2010, and goalkeepers are required to wear facemasks. Otherwise, no protective equipment is required. Hurling is not for the lighthearted; the sport can be dangerous. In 1997, a goalkeeper took a shot to the groin, shattering one testicle and having to remove half of the second one.

Hurling is faster and older than lacrosse. Additionally the players are pretty tough (arguably tougher since they barely wear any protection. See point E.) and given the time zone difference, hurling players are literally practicing while lacrosse players sleep. Hurling is pretty much the real life version of a “No Fear” t-shirt.

Now we may think that this mutant form of Cricket has no chance of making it in America but that’s what everyone said/thought about soccer 20 years ago and look where soccer Fùtbol is now. Hurling is an existential threat to lacrosse and we need to be vigilant, otherwise in twenty years lacrosse sticks and balls will be replaced with ‘hurlies and sliotars.

Think I’m overreacting? Well check out this video of Univ. of Toronto lacrosse players playing hurling and tell me they aren’t falling in love with the Irish Sport.

As I said .... EXISTENTIAL THREAT. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.