Introduction to Gaelic Football

Originally Published for the 2005 CIF Programme

Gaelic football forms an important role in Irish sport. Both men and women’s games will be played at the sports arena. GAA will also be displayed on the Sports Screen in the Refreshment Tent during each Crawley Irish Festival.

Gaelic Football’s origins pre-date recorded history, but the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded in 1884. The game has a strong following in Ireland. From the local juniors to the all-Ireland final at the highly impressive Croke Park stadium, the passion and commitment on the pitch are the same all over. There are over 2,500 clubs within Ireland and these clubs feed into the county system, much like the structure of the Rugby Football Union in England.

It is not only in Ireland that Gaelic football is played. The game is also played in many other parts of the world where there are large numbers of Irish people. Clubs are now well established in America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and mainland Europe. Indeed, the Crawley Gaels used to play on the very turf that many of you will be standing on as you read this! Each year, both London and New York compete in the All-Ireland Football Championships!

An International Rules series is played annually between Ireland and Australia, combining both GAA and Australian Football League (AFL) codes. The International Rules game is a mix of Gaelic football and Australian Rules football. It is thought that Australian Rules is based on Gaelic Football, sharing many of its characteristics.

Did you know?

  • Gaelic football used an oval ball, before 1884, and had four posts much like those in Aussie Rules until 1910.
  • Hill 16, at Croke Park, is so named because it was built out of rubble following the devastation of Dublin during the Easter Rising in 1916.
  • Pat Bonner, the Republic of Ireland’s former goalkeeper, started-off as a Gaelic Footballer – but there was no money in it professionally.
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