Hurling Sport

Hurling is a Fast Growing Sport in America, But What is it?

The annual Hurling Classic has come to New York City which is certainly a far cry from its early days in Ireland. Yet the sport appears to be growing in popularity amongst Americans, particularly the younger generation. But what actually is hurling?

Hurling is arguably the world’s fastest field sport as well as one of it’s oldest and is played with sticks known as hurleys as well as a ball called a sliotar, by two teams of 15 members. It is also reportedly the most skillful fame in the world, a claim many other sports will try to refute.

Mixing skills from other games including field hockey, baseball and lacrosse, hurling is definitely a ‘hard-hitting, highly paced game’.

It is now known as one of Ireland’s major national sports with its history dating back to 7th and 8th century AD where Irish laws have listed the many different injuries that had occurred through playing the sport.

However, its history most likely goes back even further due to the Irish Olympics starting in 1600BC, nearly 1,000 before the Greek’s started their event.

This November saw the Hurling Classic – an annual round of games designed to draw attention from sports fans around the country to the merits of this captivating game – move away from Boston’s Fenway Park and head to Citi Field, the home ground of MLB’s New York Mets.

And with the All-Ireland Senior Hurling competition sending the top four counties to participate, it was always going to be a good tournament.

In Boston, Fenway Sports Management (FSM) managed to gain more than 30,000 spectators and were hoping by moving the games to New York they would gain a bigger audience with FSM spokesman Mark Lev commenting:

‘We’re aiming to replicate that success in New York and hope to introduce hurling to new audiences and generate more interest in the sport.’

While Wexford were due to take on reigning champions Limerick, Tipperary and Kilkenny re-enacted 2019’s All-Ireland final. The winners of each game then played each other for the title.
But what actually is hurling?

Played on a field that is slightly bigger than a soccer pitch with ‘H’ shaped goals at each end, the game is played for 70 minutes with extra time added to each 35 minute half depending on injuries, with a break in the middle.

However due to the field sizes in America being slightly smaller to those in Ireland The Hurling Classic will be fielding teams of 11 players with the points from the ball crossing the bar not counting, meaning the rules have had to be changed slightly from the original game.

Teams play with sticks that are akin to hockey sticks, however the ‘hurleys’ have a larger ‘toe’ enabling the player to lift the ball and therefore having a better chance of hitting it.

Each team has 15 amateur players meaning there are no big salaries to pay and points are scored through either scoring a goal with the sliotar making its way into the net (3 points) or by hitting it over the crossbar (1 point). Whichever team has the highest score at the end is the winner.

In New York there are already five senior teams with a playing level almost the same as the level in Ireland. This means that the competition is ‘pretty good’.

Tommy Kavanagh, a 27 year old hurler from County Tipperary in Ireland has been quoted as saying ‘the majority of the American born players’ parents were born in Ireland, and their skill set would be at 17 or 18 as good as any 17 or 18 year old in Ireland.

Moving to New York three years ago, Kavanagh plays hurling for Tipperary. Founded in the 1890s, the club was originally known as the Kickhams until they were forced to change their name in 1904.

Kavanagh explains, ‘anyone that emigrates, either to the US or the UK, that has played hurling, once they arrive in a new location, their first port of call is to join a local club, and to try and meet similar people to yourself.’

As well as keeping players connected with Ireland hurling is a key part of may players Irish identity with Kavanagh acknowledging ‘just because you move to a new country doesn’t mean you stop playing the game’.

However, being a hurler has raised a few eyebrows, not just in New York but across the United States as a whole, with many Americans curious to understand what the game is.

‘Hurling is the national game of Ireland. If you carry a hurley down the street, people are very inquisitive to know what’s the game, and what is that bat. I have that sense of spreading the game.’

Although the Hurling Classic has visited New York City for the first time this year, the game has been around since 1772, with Irish soldiers in the British Army introducing it to the country.


Golfers Looking To Improve Their Game Urged To Focus On Fitness

Dan Valentine, Director of Fitness at BodySmart Golf has worked within the fitness industry for over 20 years. During this time, he has earned himself the reputation of becoming a top level rotational strength specialist, working with professional athletes from a wide range of sports such as Ice Hockey, Rugby, Tennis and Golf. He has travelled all over the world training athletes to give them the edge they need to outperform the competition, working with players performing at the very highest levels of sport including the NHL, England Rugby, US Golf Tour Pros and the ATP. All of these players require rotational power and strength, whether it be to hit a 100mph slap shot or hit a drive over 300 yards.

Dan has a Honors Bachelors Sport Science with Coaching degree from one of the top sporting universities in the country. Studying subjects such as Advanced Biomechanics and Exercise Science put him on his path to understanding how the body moves, what muscles are being used and what exercises are best to achieve the desired result. He is certified by the Titleist Performance Institute to work with golfers of all levels, analysing movement through screening in order to ascertain what exercises need to be done to improve.

Embed from Getty Images

Even the most experienced of golfers can suffer from frustrating physical limitations that hold them back from achieving their full potential. These can even cause some golfers to consider abandoning the game altogether as they know exactly what they are trying to do, but their body will not let them. Dan argues that it is here where a coach or fitness specialist provide vital support to move forward as they can take a look at your performance as a whole and use their expert knowledge to help your improve upon your physical weaknesses.  

For Dan, there are certain physical limitations that hinder the development of golfers. When coaching, he checks the head position of the golfer during the backswing as this can be a clear indicator tight neck muscles if this is incorrect. Similarly, limited hip movements can cause golfers to be unable to move towards the ball and an incorrect finishing position demonstrates a lack of balance or problems in the downswing. 

The game of golf can quickly lead to injury if the player is not fully prepared and this is why Dan thinks it is so important for players looking to enhance their game to work with a dedicated fitness coach. He says that attempting to hit the ball like Tiger Woods or Gary Woodland will only cause physical issues and injury if the player is not equipped with the physical capabilities to support their actions. 

Embed from Getty Images

Four areas Dan thinks are vital to golf fitness are mobility, balance, strength and speed – when all three are invested in the player becomes much more likely to reach their golfing goals. 


Dan argues that to be successful in golf, golfers should have a wide range of movements so they are able to seamlessly move from one position to another, particularly in the swing. Without high levels of mobility, the golfer will find it tough to extend through their arms, rotate through the upper spine and limit any hip turn when on the downswing. He says that a fitness coach can support any golfer, at any level, to increase their mobility. 


For Dan, balance is of vital importance to a successful golf swing. Without it any golfer will struggling to put power into their shots. A firm connection should always be made with the ground as this helps to control the swing. Balance and mobility go hand in hand as they help golfers to create defined and controlled movements that do not cause any physical difficulties. 


He says that the strength and power from a golf swing comes from the kinetic chain. This begins at the feet, move up the body and to the hands into the swing. It is only when this is a fluid movement absent from pauses will the swing have maximum speed and power. Dan thinks that the most effective golf programmes not only include strategies to increase strength but it should also include techniques to help golfers utilise their power most efficiently.


Dan thinks that speed does not always mean doing things as quickly as possible; golfers need to know when to slow-down. Both are very important aspects of golf. Fast movements are essential during the downswing because this creates the power to drive the ball but it is important to then maximise balance skills and remain controlled during the downswing because this important to finishing in the right position. Dan says that a lack of control when decelerating increases chances of injury. 

From Dan’s extensive experience in the fitness injury, he has seen that it is only when golfers invest in their physical abilities will they be able to consistently better their game pain free.

California Law

New California Law Would Allow N.C.A.A. Athletes to Make Money

As a general rule, college athletes are not paid more than the cost of their tuition, regardless of how much money they may make for their university. Many have decried this longstanding national policy as unfair, and recently California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that would allow college players to hire agents and strike endorsement deals, upending a policy considered standard in every other state. The law was passed despite the extensive lobbying of universities and powerful organizations who opposed the measure. Though the law is not set to go into effect until 2023, it is already causing confusion and pushback among college sports teams and leagues.

According to Newsom, while the law only applies to California, it represents “a big move to expose the farce and to challenge a system that is outsized in its capacity to push back.” Newsom considers it fundamentally unfair that the only students who are not able to monetize their image, likeness, and skills are athletes, even though these students generate perhaps the most revenue of any student group. It has long been the philosophy that student athletes attend university to earn a degree, not to make money, but as the industry of college sports has exploded this view is starting to change, much to the chagrin of colleges and student-athlete organizations. The N.C.A.A. has called the measure “unconstitutional” and is developing a legal defense against the law.

Embed from Getty Images

When the law goes into effect in a few years, it will directly contradict current N.C.A.A. guidelines, which govern the participation of student-athletes in sports. Currently, the guidelines strictly prevent student-athletes from making money in a variety of ways, ranging not only from banning sponsorships but to preventing athletes from selling autographs and monetizing social media accounts. This means that after the law goes into effect, student-athletes who hire agents and win endorsements will violate N.C.A.A. guidelines despite being legally allowed to do so, potentially incurring fines from the N.C.A.A. It’s not currently clear whether the N.C.A.A. could legally enforce such fines.

As California is among the most populated states in the country, it would be difficult for the N.C.A.A. to afford to penalize the state’s universities and athletes, who make up a significant portion of the American college sports industry. And although the law only applies to California, it is sure to have reverberations throughout college sports in general, as leaders will be forced to decide whether to change their rules barring athletes from making money in order to accommodate Californian student-athletes, or simply ban these athletes from competitions.

Embed from Getty Images

As the 2023 deadline approaches, other states are looking into the possibility of ensuring that student-athletes can receive compensation as well. Because California is such a large and influential state, they are likely to lead the way on this and similar legislation, and there’s a good chance other states follow suit. The enacting of similar legislation, or the lack thereof, is likely to be a determining factor in the question of how the N.C.A.A. changes its rules.

With this law, California is intending to force the N.C.A.A.’s hand, as Newsom claimed they were “not going to do the right thing on their own.” Both Republicans and Democrats were in favor of the bill, but as 2023 is still four years away, there is time for the law to be modified depending on how developments in the industry proceed. The law had the support of LeBron James, who hosted a television show on which Newsom signed the bill. Because only a small percentage of college athletes become professional athletes, the law is thought to give more students an opportunity to make money off of their athletic abilities which they hone during the course of their education.