Have any of you ever seen Gaelic football being played? Maybe at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton, Massachusetts, or Gaelic Parks in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. With the All-Ireland’s for Gaelic football just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to give you some background on the traditional Irish sport.
Gaelic football is a national sport of Ireland. The earliest record of any form of football being played was in 1308 in County Dublin. However, it wasn’t until 1887 that the sport was codified and put into play for official competitions.
Gaelic football is played between two teams of 15 players on a grass field (Similar to a football field with two upright goal posts separated by an 8 ft. crossbar with a soccer net.). When I first watched the sport being played at Croke Park, I realized it was mixture of basketball, football, rugby, soccer, and volleyball…, all mixed into one amazing sport.
Players advance a spherical ball (Comparable in size to a volleyball.) up a field to score. They can bounce, carry, drop and then toe kick into their hands, hand pass, and kick the ball. Now, there are two types of scoring: Goals and points. A goal is awarded for kicking the ball under the crossbar into the net and is worth three points. A point is awarded for hand-passing or kicking the ball over the crossbar and is worth one point. Like soccer, Gaelic football has one goalkeeper, six backs, two midfielders, and six forwards.
At the national level, the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association governing all national sports in Ireland.) is organized into the 32 Counties of Ireland-including London and New York. It has become the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of attendance and the
All-Ireland Senior Championship Final
typically draws around 80,000 people at Croke Park. Pretty impressive, right?
What I find interesting and what many people don’t know is that Gaelic football is one of the few amateur sports in the world, where coaches, managers, and players are prohibited from receiving any form of payment. It’s strictly volunteer. Imagine that!
So, after an explanation in a nutshell about Gaelic football, are you ready to
watch the All-Ireland’s on September 23rd
? Maybe you will be lucky enough to
travel to Ireland
next summer or fall with Tenon Tours and catch a glimpse of this spectacular sport being played at Croke Park. Be sure to pick a county team, get decked out in their team colors, and cheer for them over a pint of Guinness. If you are adventurous enough, why don’t you learn how to play it yourself with the Experience Gaelic Games optional tour in Dublin? Be sure to ask your Tenon Tours Sales Representative for details.