hurling, outdoor ball and stick game similar to field hockey (see hockey, field). The national pastime of Ireland, it was played for many centuries before the Gaelic Athletic Association standardized the rules in 1884. In the United States, hurling was played by early Irish immigrants, and it is still played by some Irish-Americans, especially in areas of recent immigration. An extremely rugged game, hurling is played on a field 80 by 140 yd (73.15 by 128.02 m) by two opposing teams of 15 players each. The ball, made of rubber, is 9 to 10 in. (22.86 to 25.4 cm) in circumference, cork-centered, and covered with horsehide. After it is picked off the ground or caught in the hurley—a tapering, curved, broad-bladed wooden stick 3 ft long—the player runs with the ball as far as he can and then hurls it toward a teammate or toward the goal his team is attacking. Only the hurley may be used in advancing the ball. The goalposts are 16 ft (4.88 m) high and 21 ft (6.4 m) wide, with a crossbar 8 ft (2.44 m) above the ground. Three points are scored by driving the ball into the net under the crossbar, one point by hitting it over the crossbar.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.