The GAA and Hockey Canada have announced a new International Rules sport dubbed “hurling on ice“. The influx of Irish immigrants to Canada has seen a mutual admiration for ice hockey and hurling develop, and interest in both has grown as a result.
Leading GAA and Canadian Hockey stars such as Joe Canning, Eoin Kelly, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Getzlaf were consulted in outlining a compromise set of rules for the ice hockey/hurling hybrid:
It’ll be played on ice with an oval-shaped rink the size of a large GAA pitch with a chalked white line replacing barriers. We will use standard GAA goalposts in an effort to vastly increase goals which will be worth 3 points. Fighting is allowed but players will suffer a 2 min penalty/sin bin. – Hockey Canada president, Tom Renney on rules.
The hockey puck (which will be used instead of a sliotar) can only be carried for 4 strides/steps before being released, balanced on the edge of the hurley or bounced off the ice. No protective clothing will be allowed, and while helmets will be encouraged they will not be required, a stipulation Diarmuid O’Sullivan insisted upon, saying: “What’s the point of skulls, so?”
Liam Ó Néill denied the GAA were trying to revive waning interest in International Rules. Instead, he suggested that improving the two sports’ “unfounded reputation for barbaric violence” was the sole reason.
“The aim is to provide hurling and hockey the stage to showcase their speed, excitement and safety, by some of the most mentally-stable and physically-sound athletes in the world.” – Liam Ó Néill, GAA president.
Team Ireland manager, Brian Cody, didn’t mince words saying the Kilkenny hurling team were looking forward to representing their country: “Listen, any sport that let’s you stop halfway through a game, to beat the living shit of an opponent, is alright by us.”
NHL star, Sidney Crosby, claims Canadian interest in hurling is growing: “When hurling placed 9th on the ‘Most Dangerous Sports in the World’ list, Canadians took note.”
Vancouver Riots hockey star, Samuel Fournier, gave his first impression of hurling: “It seems to me kinda like an egg and spoon race on LSD.”
Mickey Harte, speaking to FM News’ senior correspondent Damien Martyn, said: “I didn’t think it was possible for the GAA to come up with something stupider than Aussie rules but here we are.”
Croke Park will host the inaugural test series in December, 2016, possibly in conjunction with Disney on Ice’s 2 week run at GAA headquarters.
Several GAA teams including Kilkenny, Clare and Galway will build ice rinks adjacent to GAA grounds in an effort to encourage players to take up ice hockey and figure skating.
This will not be the first time a Canadian GAA team has taken on an Irish representative. In December 2008, the Mayo senior hurling team spent 2 weeks in Calgary, braving the harsh Canadian winter in preparation for the coming league season. A group of local lumberjacks took interest in the “strange sport” and challenged the Mayo men to an impromptu game, which became the first ever International hurling match. It finished Mayo: 2-10; Calgary: 4-19.