Ireland’s “Ancient Warrior Sport” is heading to Queens this weekend, and like everything else related to the Emerald Isle, the game will happen rain or shine.

The first-ever New York Hurling Classic is set for Citi Field on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 12:30 p.m. Ticket prices run from $45 to $75.

The three-game competition will pit 11-man squads from four counties: Limerick, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Wexford. It’s friendly and not official — Gaelic Athletic Association regulation games feature 15-man teams and longer time periods — so they’ll vie for fun and bragging rights more than anything else.

All four counties have strong teams and traditions. Tipperary beat Kilkenny in the finals of the all-Ireland senior championship this year, while Limerick took the top honors in 2018. Wexford hasn’t won the country’s highest prize since 1996, but hurling has been part of the county’s folklore since medieval times. Plus, Wexford has a long-running rivalry with neighboring Kilkenny.

Aer Lingus, a main sponsor, will fly the squads over the Atlantic Ocean.

May the best team win, but it’s not all about sports. The event will kick off with a lively fan festival with music and dancing.

Sounds like a tremendous day, but what is hurling?

Enthusiasts claim that it’s the world’s oldest field sport. Some form of it has been played in Ireland for more than 4,000 years. In fact, 15th-century ballads mention competitions.

Enthusiasts also describe it as a mixture of “hockey and war.” Players use curved wooden sticks called “hurls” and they hit leather balls called “sliothars.” The object is to get the sliothar, which is about the size of a tennis ball, into the other team’s H-shaped goalpost or over the crossbar to score points.

Players can carry the sliothar for three steps, then they have to hit it or bounce it on the hurl as they run around. It can get vicious as tackling is allowed and players don’t wear protective padding. Helmets weren’t mandatory until 2010.

Though it’s certainly an Irish game, there are hurling fans throughout the world, especially in places with high concentrations of people with Irish heritage. This is the first such tournament in New York City, but Boston’s Fenway Park has hosted similar hurling matches since 2015.

The Citi Field parking lot will open at 9 a.m. with the gates opening at 11 a.m.

Image: Gaelic Athletic Association


Join The Discussion

Related Stories
Citi Field in Flushing to host Irish hurling competition and festival in November
Citi Field in Flushing to host Irish hurling competition and festival in November

Skip to toolbar