World's oldest field sport growing in Madison - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

World's oldest field sport growing in Madison

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MADISON, WI (WKOW) --  It's called the fastest sport on grass. It's also one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. But despite 3,000 years of tradition, many have never heard of it.

Hurling is a traditional Irish sport, so rooted in Gaelic history, it is thought to predate Christianity.

The team sport is played on a field and combines elements of lacrosse, field hockey, baseball and rugby, among others.

"It's continuous play," said John Kenney, a founding member of the Hurling Club of Madison. "You have to be fast. You have to be strong. You have to be accurate. You have to be smart. It combines all different elements and brings them into one phenomenal sport."

Players score points using a wooden mallet known as a hurley or hurl and a sliotar, or ball. A goal is worth three points, and teams get one point for scoring through the uprights of the goal post.

The obscurity of the sport in the U.S. can often lead to some confusion.

"The name is challenging because we get mixture with curling," said Matt Daly, a member of the Hurling Club. "And we have to say, 'no, it's hurling with an "h." We also get mixed up with other activities that people associate with hurling."

The Hurling Club of Madison is in its eighth year with about 30-40 members and has emerged as one of the best in the country, finishing runner-up last year in the national championship.

Mark Gethings originallylly from Ireland and moved to the U.S. for work just a few months ago.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Gethings, "especially because it's a step up in Ireland. So, I came here, and there is talent. A few of the guys have been playing for several years now and they are very impressive. I learned when I was six or seven. It's like learning how to walk in Ireland because it's just what you do."

The HCM will travel to Boston in August to compete in the national championship tournament. In September, the club will host the Midwest Hurling Championships in Madison.

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