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Hurling: The Fastest Field Sport in the World

Oct 19, 2013, 1:20 AM EDT

A hurler tries his hand at lacrosse at Friday's open practice

Ever heard of hurling? Neither did I until a couple days ago.

That is because it is one of Ireland’s native Gaelic games. And tomorrow, Notre Dame’s Arlotta Stadium will play host to the inaugural Celtic Champions Classic.

Playing before the USC game, this “Super Hurling 11’s” matchup will certainly get Irish fans pumped for beating the Trojans later in the night. Playing tomorrow in this hurling showing will be the Irish province of Munster, who will be representing the Fighting Irish, and the province of Leinster, representing Ireland.

If you have never seen or even heard anything about the sport of hurling, here is a short video basically explaining the sport and showing the high intensity the sport brings to both players and the country of Ireland alike:

As you can see this sport is certainly one not to be overlooked. When I talked to Dessie Farrell who is the Chief Executive and founding member of the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), he said this sport is an amateur sport (meaning the players do not get paid at all).

“While it is an amateur sport, the players prepare like professionals,” Farrell said. “They train twice a day sometimes and have five or six practice sessions during the week and also go to college and hold down jobs as well.”

In our world today, athletes are mainly concerned with getting paid and making the most money they can. With hurling in Ireland however, athletes do not care about money. “They play it for the love of the game and the love of the region and that community,” Farrell states.

Tomorrow’s contest will have some adjusted rules and scoring in compliance with the limitations of Arlotta Stadium. This game though will be action packed as the smaller teams (Hurling is normally played with 15 players per team) will make for the best possible showcase of the skills of this 2,000 year-old game.

Playing at Notre Dame is something Dessie Farrell is really looking forward to seeing. “There’s a deep-rooted connection between the University and our land of Ireland.” Farrell states, “It’s good for us now to further strengthen the ties [with Notre Dame] and ensure that we would return the favor [speaking about Notre Dame Football playing in Ireland last year] and do something unique here.”

This sport is certainly unique and after seeing some of the players practicing a little bit, I can assure you this is a can’t miss event.

Saturday at 3:00 PM at Arlotta Stadium, Irish fans and, yes, even USC fans can come see this outstanding showing of sportsmanship and bravery. However once the game is over, these hurling players and coaches will be cheering for the Irish as they take on the Trojans.

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