Gaelic games, as the name suggests, are games unique to Ireland. The two primary men’s Gaelic games are football and hurling under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Women play ladies’ Gaelic football under the Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) and camogie (almost identical to hurling) under The Camogie Association. The GAA, the largest sporting organisation in the country, was established in 1884. Croke Park on Dublin’s north side is its headquarters – it’s also the largest stadium in the country.
Gaelic Football, hurling and camogie are played by two teams of fifteen players on a field between 130 and 145-metres long. Their objective is to put the ball through the goal posts – rugby-sized uprights with a soccer net underneath. A goal over the crossbar is awarded one point, a goal in the net gets three. Football players carry the round, leather ball – but only for a distance of four consecutive steps – and are permitted to kick and hand-pass it to each other. Hurling and camogie players carry a hurley. Traditionally made from ash wood, the hurley resembles a hockey stick and is used to hit a small, leather ball (called the ‘sliothar’) around the field. Hurling is reputedly the world’s fastest field sport; the ball regularly hits speeds of over 150 km/h.
Being a grassroots organisation, there are 134 Gaelic clubs across the county of Dublin, with 2,518 in total across Ireland. Despite the popularity of these sports, none of the players are paid and many hold-down day jobs. Players are chosen from their clubs to represent their county in competition. The largest of these competitions is the yearly All Ireland Senior Football and Hurling Championships. Dublin is both the reigning All Ireland Senior Men’s & Women’s Football Champions for 2018.
If you’d like to try these unique sports for yourself, this is the place to start.