What is Gaelic Football?


Gaelic football is an Irish team sport. It is a form of football derived from the traditional Irish ball games. Some described it as a cross between rugby and association football – but the Gaelic game came first. Its origins pre-date recorded history, but the governing body ,who formalised the rules of the sport, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded in 1884.

It’s not only in Ireland that Gaelic football is played. Clubs are now well established in America, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada and mainland Europe. Eindhoven Shamrocks GAA club is one of about 80 clubs in mainland Europe with new clubs forming every year. Gaelic sports are growing rapidly in mainland Europe and are even on the school curriculum in parts of France.

Aim of the game:

Gaelic football is played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. The objective is to score by kicking or punching the ball into the other teams goals (3 points) or over the cross bar between the two uprights (1 point). The team with the most points at the end of two 30 minute halfs is the winner.

The players can move the ball using a combination of carrying, bouncing, kicking, hand-passing, and soloing (dropping the ball and then toe-kicking the ball upward into the hands). Teamwork is essential to successfully competing in matches.


Brief History of the GAA

Michael Cusack, a teacher and journalist, is the man credited with much of the incentive for founding the GAA. In 1877 he opened the Civil Service Academy to prepare Irish students for the Civil Service examinations. Sport was a central element of Cusack’s academy with pupils being encouraged to get involved in all forms of physical exercise.

In the early 1880s Cusack became increasingly involved in the re-establishment of indigenous Irish sports. In 1882 he attended the first meeting of the Dublin Hurling Club, formed for the purpose of reinstating Hurling as the national game of Ireland. This endeavour grew into the Metropolitan Hurling Club, helping drive a national revival of the game. This nationwide revival lead Cusack to realise that the rules of the games needed to be standardised and that a governing body for Irish sports was essential.

Cusack used the nationalist press of the day to promote the creation of a body to govern athletics in Ireland. Supported by Maurice Davin, a prominent Irish athlete, Cusack announced via the press that a meeting would be held in Hayes’s Hotel Tipperary on the 1st of November 1884. On this historic date Cusack convened the first meeting of the ‘Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes’. Maurice Davin was elected President whilst Cusack and two others were elected Secretaries.

From this initial, modest first meeting grew the Association we know today.

The GAA through time

* 1884 Foundation of the GAA

At the behest of Michael Cusack seven men met in Hayes Hotel, Thurles on November 1, 1884 and founded the Gaelic Athletic Association for the preservation and cultivation of our national pastimes.

* 1913 Purchase of Croke Park

The GAA decided to purchase Jones’ Road Sports Ground from Frank Dineen for £3,500. They re-named the grounds ‘Croke Park’ in honour of Archbishop Croke, First Patron of the GAA, who died in 1902.

* 1939-1945 The GAA and World War II Travel and fuel restrictions during World War II severely curtailed the playing of Gaelic games. The GAA in Britain continued to play their championships against all the odds.

* 1961 GAA and the advent of Telefís Éireann With the establishment of Telefís Éireann, television became a reality for a large section of the Irish population. Gaelic Games were televised live for the first time.

* 1984 GAA Centenary Year

The GAA celebrates its 100th year in excistence.

* 2003 The New Croke Park

The renovated Croke Park is opened with a capacity of 82,300. The world Special Olympics are staged at the venue.

* 2009 125th Anniversary

The GAA celebrates its 125th year in existence with an array of events to mark the year.

* 2013 Introduction of HawkEye

The new Hawkeye point detection technology for both hurling and football at Croke Park was first utilised on 1 June 2013 at the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-final double header. Referee Rory Hickey created history when he called for HawkEye in the 46th minute to check a shot from Offaly’s Peter Cunningham – HawkEye declared the shot a miss.

Major Cups and Trophies

* Sam Maguire Cup

Awarded to the winners of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. Sam Maguire was a native of Dunmanway, Co. Cork, where he was born in 1879. At 20 years of age, he took a position with the postal service in London. There he was prominent in GAA affairs as a member of the Hibernians club and played with London in the All-lreland football finals of 1900, 1901 (captain) and 1902.

* Liam MacCarthy Cup

Awarded to the winners of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. The trophy commemorates the memory of Liam MacCarthy who was prominently associated with the GAA in London.

* New Ireland Cup

Awarded to the winners of the National Football League.

* Dr. Croke Cup

Awarded to the winners of the National Hurling League.

* Andy Merrigan Cup

Awarded to the winners of the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship.

* Tommy Moore Cup

Awarded to the winners of the All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship.

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