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DULUTH - More than 80 years have passed since hurlers have set foot on Duluth's Park Point for a match.
"I was thinking about starting a club all last winter and I looked on Facebook and sure enough there was already a web page. Some of the guys from the Twin Cities had started it and I got in contact with them and told them I was doing the same thing so it's rolled from there," said Matt Kearns, co-founder of the Duluth Hurling Club.
The club, a startup club of about 6–8 players welcomed the Twin Cities Robert Emmets Hurling Club to Park Point for a friendly game to help re–introduce the sport to the area.
"What we found in the cities is that Americans really love the sport. It's high paced. It's fast scoring," said Tom Frawley, co-chair for the Twin Cities Robert Emmets Hurling Club.
Garrick Stokes, a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a member of the Duluth Hurling Club said, "It's a foreign sport, but when you start to understand it, it becomes almost like football, baseball or hockey."
Hurling is played with 15 players a side, each with an axe–shaped stick called a hurley and a ball called a sliothar.
"When you get the ball or sliothar over the bar it's one point and if you get the ball under the bar it's called a goal and a goal is the equivalent of three points," said Frawley.
Kearns said, "You can't run with the ball which means it's a lot of passing, hitting back and forth, so everybody's always involved and running the whole field, which is twice the size of a soccer field."
In Ireland, hurling is an amateur sport played between towns and villages.
In America, it has moved on to city pubs.
But, no matter where you play or who you play for the sport is driven by the passion of those who play it.
Frawley said, "You're kind of playing for the pride of your area, your town, your village and that's the real motivation."
The Duluth Hurling Club sees the exhibition as the first step to gaining members, competing in regional and national tournaments and setting the sport up for continued success in the Northland.
"If you can swing a baseball bat, if you can swing a golf club that's about all you need and as they say in Ireland you need a lot of bravery," said Kearns.