For kids: Have you heard about hurling?

This Irish sport is one of the world's oldest field games.

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    ON THE FIELD: Two athletes play a hurling match during a club practice in Minnesota.
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If you're a sports fan in America, you probably know all about football, baseball, basketball, and soccer. But have you ever heard about hurling?

Hurling is believed to be one of the oldest field games around. It has been featured in Irish folklore for the past 2,000 years. When the Celts first moved to Ireland hundreds of years ago, they brought their own language, their own music, and their own game – hurling – along with them.

Today, you can still play in a hurling match in Ireland, and you can even find a few teams playing matches in the US.

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Hurling is played with a small ball called a sliotar and a curved wooden stick called a hurley or a camán in Irish. There are 15 players on each team, and both teams try to score goals for their team by getting the sliotar into a net that is guarded by a goalie.

You can use your stick to pick up the sliotar and put it in your hand, but you can only take four steps with it in your hand. Skilled players can run while balancing the sliotar on the hurley. Sounds pretty hard, right? Now imagine balancing the ball on the stick as the opposing team chases you, and tries to steal the ball away!

Did you know that hurling is played on a field that is twice as big as an American football field?

Hurling games are also usually split into two 23-minute periods. Wow, that's a lot of running!

Here, in the US, kids can join hurling teams at age 7. The rules and the field size are slightly modified depending on the age of the players. For instance, 7- and 8-year-olds play on a field that is just one-quarter the size of a regulation field, and they play for just 28 minutes instead of 46 minutes.

Now that you know the rules, are you ready to pick up a hurley and give it a try?

For more information on hurling, check out the North American County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association's website at www.nagaa.org. Once you get to the website, click on "clubs," and look for a group that plays matches in your area.

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