BUTTE – “Throw it up and hit it with your hand like that,” Missoula hurler Myles Maloney instructed the students.
So, what do you call a sport that combines the skills of handball and hockey and is played on the grass?
“Hurling is the national sport of Ireland, it’s 3,000 years old, it’s the oldest team sport still played today. They call it the fastest game on grass,” Maloney said, who plays for the Thomas Meagher Hurling Club.
Hurlers from Missoula came to Butte Thursday to introduce East Middle School students to the sport and teach them some of the basics.
“They loved it, it was awesome. They were so excited. They picked it up, they have skills already,” Maloney said.
East Middle student Kaylee Worth, 12, really enjoyed the lesson, “It’s fun, yeah It’s fun, I could see myself playing it.”
Aidan Tierney, 13, said the game is challenging, “It’s hard when you balance it, you’ve got to balance it on this thing and bounce it up and down and stuff and there’s a lot of running.”
Hurly stick, this is the ball called a slitter, I’ve never played this. Now I’m soloing and I can hit it over to him, pass. I got this game.
“We’re really excited, we’re going to bring it to Butte for the first time in at least 100 years on St. Patrick’s Day. We’re going to have a match after the parade at Montana Tech,” Maloney said.
The club wants to encourage Butte to start a hurling team.
“You know, hurling has a really deep history to it so I think it’s a matter of time for it to catch on in Butte,” said East Middle Physical Education Teacher Becky Hancock.
Maloney added, “That’s is the ultimate goal. Butte’s going to have a team by the end of the summer and they are going to be supported as any team out there.”
Butte loves all things, Irish.
The two clubs from Missoula will play the St. Patrick’s Day game at Montana Tech’s Bob Green Field about 1:45 p.m.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News