Nov. 14, 2019 By Michael Dorgan
Ireland’s ancient sport of hurling comes to Queens this weekend for the first ever New York Hurling Classic.
Four of the game’s premier counties: Limerick, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Wexford will battle for the Players Champions Cup at Citi Field which begins at 12:30 p.m., Saturday Nov. 16.
Commonly referenced in Irish folklore, hurling is one of the oldest sports in the world and is widely regarded as the fastest field sport on the planet.
A uniquely Irish sport, hurling is played entirely by amateur athletes and is also famous for its tough tackling, athleticism and breath-taking skill levels.
The event marks the first hurling tournament of its kind in New York City, and follows on from the success of Boston’s Fenway Classic in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Defending champions Limerick arrive heavy handed with a 30-man strong panel for the 11-a-side, three game tournament and face Wexford in the first semi-final.
Tipperary defeated Ireland’s most successful hurling county Kilkenny in this year’s All-Ireland Senior Championship Final and will recommence their fierce rivalry in the second semi-final.
Conventional hurling is played by two teams of 15 players on a 475 ft. by 289 ft. grass field where participants use curved wooden sticks called “hurls” to strike customized leather balls called “sliotars” through the other team’s H-shaped goalposts.
A shot that goes over the crossbar is worth one point, while a shot that goes under the crossbar into a goal guarded by a goalkeeper, is worth three points.
The sliotar cannot be carried for more than four steps without being balanced at the end of the hurl and can only be handled twice before a player must relinquish possession.
The New York Hurling Classic is a slightly modified version of the rules with matches lasting 40 minutes on a reduced size pitch which arguably leads to an even faster game!
In Ireland, no transfers are permitted and all play purely for the pride of their home county.
The Citi Field parking lot will open at 9 a.m. with gates opening at 11 a.m. will also feature a festival of Irish music and dancing.
Tickets can be purchased from the New York Mets official website and range from $45 to $75.