Even within clubs and across the GAA Hurling has always been seen as a game apart. In dual clubs football is always given credit as a great sport but hurling has more the quality of a religion.

It is always seen as special, something unique within our culture, something which demands more in terms of skill, dedication and passion than something so otherwise trivial as mere sport.

The idea of hurling is bigger than the result of any one year’s Championship and RTÉ is about to feed that idea with a spectacularly filmed three-part documentary series tracing the game from Cú Chullain in the mist of Irish legend to Canning at the peak of the game in the modern era.

The first episode was screened in a special showing at the Irish Film Institute last night, introduced by RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes GAA President John Horan.

Produced by Crossing The Line Films for RTÉ and with the support of the GAA and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the series, filmed in cinema quality 4K over two years, celebrates hurling, exploring its origins from the mists of prehistory through to its tremendous growth over the last century and how it can justifiably claim to be the fastest and most exciting field sport in the world.

State of the art cameras, techniques and technologies were used alongside rare and unseen archive which will bring hurling to Irish viewers as they’ve never seen it before.

Some of the earliest moving footage of hurling was rescued from the vaults to be seen onscreen for the first time. Film reels of games from the 1920s, 1930s and 40s were rescanned to full HD resolution which will allow viewers to see unique and priceless material in unprecedented new detail.

GAA Now, the GAA’s own step into broadcasting of content has consistently drawn large numbers to view archive material which had been saved, digitised, stored and tagged in a project undertaken by Nemeton TV over the past two years.

60 major interviews were carried out for the RTÉ series with Henry Shefflin, Joe Canning, Lee Chin, DJ Carey, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Austin Gleeson, Anna Geary, Eddie Keher, Jimmy Barry Murphy, Anthony Daly, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Angela Downey, Ger Loughnane and Brian Cody among those to feature.

All the interview transcripts will be collated and made available as a teaching resource for the future. The series will also be made available to schools across the country in conjunction with GAA Learning in order to utilise the project to its fullest potential as an educational resource.

“No other sport says more about who we are than hurling,” said Dee Forbes.

“Not only do we continue to be enthralled by the speed, the skill, the passion and the excitement of the game, but we are immensely proud of its unique Irishness.”

“Through this partnership between RTÉ, the GAA and the BAI, we have been able to unearth volumes of important, previously unseen archive footage and restore it for inclusion in this three-part series, which beautifully tells the definitive story of our national game. I hope it will be enjoyed by audiences of all ages for many years to come.”

“We are delighted that this ambitious project has come to fruition and I would like to acknowledge the great collaboration with Crossing the Line, RTÉ and the BAI in making it happen,” added John Horan.

“We believe that hurling as a game is a spectacle to rival any other and ‘The Game’, over the course of its three programmes, captures the essence of the sport. It brings the best in modern production standards to the ancient game and the result is something that I believe hurling followers everywhere will enjoy immensely. I look forward to its airing in full in the coming weeks.”

The first of three hour long episodes will be broadcast on RTÉ One at 9.35 on Monday, July 30th.

Sign up today for our free daily news digest covering the commercial world of sport or discover the benefits of becoming a full member alongside the many leading organisations whom we serve.

Image Credit: Brendan Moran, Sportsfile