Gaelic Football

With around 2,600 clubs, Gaelic football is Ireland’s most popular spectator sport. In its current form, Gaelic football is a more recent sport than hurling or shinty, dating from the late 19th century, and is played with a round leather ball a bit bigger than a volleyball. It has elements of soccer and rugby and bears a close resemblance to Australian Rules Football. With no pads or body protection, it’s not a game for the faint-hearted.

Like hurling, there are 15 players per team and different points can be scored by kicking or punching the ball either into the net below the crossbar or over it between two uprights. There are intricate rules about how the ball can be advanced up the field and how tackles may be made. Most importantly, a player can’t run more than four steps holding the ball without either bouncing it on the ground or dropping it onto his own foot and flicking it back up.

Clubs from Ireland’s 32 counties fight it out for a place in the All Ireland Final, held at Croke Park in Dublin every September. With more than 80,000 spectators in attendance, this is not a weekend to be looking to casually book a Dublin hotel room at the last minute.


Gaelic Athletic Association