Hurling?

What is Hurling? Other than being “some old Irish game“, most Americans have no clue. Too bad, because the game is pretty cool. Here’s the gist: it is a field sport, similar to field hockey or rugby; players carry wooden axe-shaped sticks (called a hurley). The object of the game is to hit (or “hurl”) a small ball between goal posts for one point or in the keeper-guarded goal for the equivalent of three points.

YouTube has you covered:

Don’t resist watching (in awe) some more hurling highlights. Also, check out “What is Hurling” parts one, two, and three for a little more background.

Hooked, yet? You’ll need Setanta Sports to keep up with the action (which we blogged about before). Satellite TV makes it possible to watch hurling and other great European/Commonwealth sports: rugby, Aussie football, cricket, and British soccer, to name a few. Setanta is available on Dish Network and DirecTV.

The network was formed by a couple of Irish guys in the Bronx who were looking for a way to watch these sports in the U.S. They started a channel distributed in bars and pubs; the company rapidly grew; and now the whole enterprise may pay-off:

Sports broadcaster Setanta Sports has received takeover approaches from several large media companies and is evaluating whether to conduct an auction, a source familiar with the matter confirmed today.

The company is discussing its next move with financial adviser Goldman Sachs, added the source. Both Setanta and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Reports say the firm has received offers of over €1.3 billion for the company. It is also believed to have received the unsolicited approach from an unnamed European media company before Christmas.

Setanta is understood to be looking for a valuation in excess of €1.3 billion, even though the company has yet to make a profit.

Among those that may express an interest are BT, ITV, Virgin Media and Disney – the owner of sports network ESPN. ESPN executives have made it clear that they are interested in breaking into the lucrative UK football rights industry.

The company, which in 2006 agreed to pay €500m over three years to share live Premiership football coverage with BSkyB, hopes to break even by the end of the year.

€1.3 – not bad for a couple Gaelic-bronxite-fanatics, but it didn’t all happen by accident. In addition to being advised by Goldman Sachs (who is advising Yahoo! to reject Microsoft’s bid) and JP Morgan, Setanta saved millions by moving part of its operations to Luxembourg:

PAY-TELEVISION broadcaster Setanta Sports has slashed at least £17m from its tax bill by setting up a subsidiary in Luxembourg. The windfall will boost the firm’s valuation as speculation increases that a sale of the company is likely.

Over 1m British and Irish subscribers pay into Setanta’s new Luxembourg subsidiary called Setanta Sports Sarl.

Setanta pays “super reduced” Vat of only 3% on subscriptions routed through the grand duchy against 17.5% charged in the UK and 21% in Ireland.

Setanta has also set up subsidiaries to support its entry into the Canadian and Australian markets this year. Its ultimate parent company remains in Ireland, where more than half of its 450 staff are employed.

Let’s just hope Setanta’s content doesn’t disappear. Cork’s hurling and football teams are on strike.

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