Whilst Gaelic games might be the most watched sports in the country, more Irish people play soccer (commonly referred to as football) than any other sport. The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) are the governing body and oversee domestic leagues and national teams. Football is especially popular in urban areas and in 2020/2021 the Leinster Senior League (LSL) for adults operated 21 divisions. The Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL), founded in 1943, is affiliated with more than 200 clubs and operates divisions from boys and girls under 7 right up to under 18s.
Of course, if you’re not into GAA, soccer or rugby, there are plenty of other sports played across the city and county of Dublin.
The Federation of Irish Sport is the representative organisation for the National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) and Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) in Ireland and its membership consists of over 100 NGBs and LSPs from every corner of the country.
Below is a list of selected sports and sporting bodies around the region. For a more complete list visit IrishSport.ie.
Its plentiful supply of natural resources – coastline, rocky mountains, rivers etc – makes Dublin a world-class venue for adventure sports of many sorts: they’re growing in popularity here all the time. Some of the highlights are listed below:
Irish Kite Surfacing Association.
Where: Poolbeg; Burrow Beach.
Where: Poolbeg, Clontarf, Dun Laoghaire, Malahide.
Resources: Irish Sailing.
Wakeboarding & Waterski-ing
Ireland has produced some world-class track-and-field athletes. Sonia O’Sullivan’s 2000m world record, set in 1994, still stands. John Treacy took home silver in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics. Ron Delany won gold in the 1500 metres at the 1956 Olympics.
Get involved with the Athletics Association of Ireland (AAI), or challenge yourself with the Dublin Marathon or the highly-popular Dublin Women’s Mini Marathon. Up for a 5k? Or a triathlon? Check out Run Ireland for up-coming events.
Ireland has long punched above its weight in boxing, and today is no exception. Carl Frampton currently holds the WBO featherweight title, and held the WBA (Super) and IBF super-bantamweight titles concurrently between 2014 and 2016. Katie Taylor – the Bray Bomber – is currently the unified lightweight female world champion. Michael Conlan is one of the most successful amateur boxers of all time – winning bronze at the London 2012 Olympics and the gold medal at the 2015 World Championships.
If there’s a fight on, it’ll be on in the pubs. It’s a great excuse to gather some friends together and head out for a pint or two. If you want to get involved, there’s no shortage of gyms in Dublin. Check out LovinDublin’s guide.
Ireland has been called ‘the land of the horse’ and if you’re looking for some equestrian action, its capital will not disappoint – in fact, a lot of horsey happenings take place within the precincts of the city itself.
There’s Polo at the Phoenix Park, Show-jumping at the RDS, racing at Leopardstown, riding schools dotted all over the county and trekking at Ashtown. Useful websites include Horse Racing Ireland, Irish Horse Gateway; Horse Sport Ireland.
This sport is very popular in Dublin – superstar golfer Padraig Harrington is a Dubliner – and has a long heritage; the oldest Dublin club, the Royal Dublin, was founded as long ago as 1885.
The suburbs of Dublin and surrounding county are home to more than fifty golf clubs, and there are many more to be found in neighbouring counties just a short distance from the capital.
Hiking & Hill-walking
Dublin is spectacularly well-equipped with a great walking country – right on its doorstep. In fact, you’re rarely out of sight of the hills, even in the city centre. Their proximity makes Dublin a very convenient place for anyone who likes their exercise with a large slice of fresh air and some gorgeous scenery. The coast provides more great walking territory, particularly at Bray and Howth Heads.
For your first encounter with what are sometimes called, slightly exaggeratedly, perhaps, the Dublin mountains – head south: the walks in local woods such as Tibradden, Ticknock, Cruagh and Mountpleasant Hill (where you’ll find the famous Hellfire club) are all easily accessible from the city for a summer evening’s walk.
If you’re looking for something a little more spectacular – and challenging – then County Wicklow, Dublin’s neighbour to the south, has it in spades. This is where you’ll find Glendalough, for instance, a magnificent valley offering a variety of trails – but there is a multitude of other great places for walking nearby, as well as longer, way-marked trails like the Wicklow Way. Many of these are on land owned by Coillte, the national authority in charge of forestry in Ireland. Coillte provides a useful map and you can also find information on local clubs.
More great trails, including the Grand Canal Way which you can join right in the city and is, as you might guess, pretty flat, are worth exploring.
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 headquarte
Mighty Aviva Stadium, the home of Irish rugby, rises from the red brick terrace houses of Beggar’s Bush on the banks of the River Dodder. Rugby has been played here since 1872 when Henry Dunlop and the Irish Champion Athletics Club laid out sports grounds here. The first representative match was played between Leinster and Ulster in 1876 and Ireland’s first international fixture against England in 1878 – making it the world’s oldest rugby union test venue. It is now home to the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), the body that manages rugby union in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.