Sliotars are hard solid balls used in the game of hurling. They are also known by the name of sliothar or only hurling ball. The regulations and standards of the balls are inspected by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The balls should be manufactured by thorough supervision or it will hamper the strike rate of the players. The players are required to hit the sliotar with the aid of a hurley and aim inside a goalpost. These balls are also used in other Gaelic games like shinty, camogie and rounders.
The sliotars are spherical, rigid and are generally bigger than the tennis balls. The ball has a tightly packed core made from cork followed by two pieces of leather coverings. The entire ball is then sewn or stitched together very precisely. The leather used for covering the surface can be 1.8 mm to 2.7 mm and has an additional coating of maximum 0.15 mm. The outer lamination protects the ball from bursting off or any sudden break-down. The balls have a diameter from 69 to 72 mm (i.e. 2.7 to 2.8 inches) and should weigh between 110 to 120 grams (3.9 to 4.2 oz). The balls have a rib with a height ranging from 2 mm to 2.8 mm and a width of 3.6 mm to 5.4 mm.
The early sliotars were manufactured centuries ago with the aid of the matted cow hair with plaited horsehair coverings. Some other materials used in manufacturing of the balls were wood, hollow bronze, rope and leather. During the 1900s, Johnny McAuliffe of County Limerick modified the ball into its current form. The earlier versions of the ball were more onerous than the modern sliotars and used to get soggy in wet conditions due to the poor manufacturing process. Later, a prominent change was brought by McAuliffe’s idea of using a cork core with white-tanned leather coverings. This led to increase the ball’s water-resistance and made it sturdier.
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