Walk into any pub in Ireland and chances are you will find fans gathered to cheer on their favorite soccer, rugby, Gaelic football or hurling team. In Ireland, sport is a religion and the players are huge stars. It is a reason to gather in the pub like no other.
Soccer and rugby have massive followings in Ireland. Unique to the country is the GAA which oversees Gaelic Football and Hurling.
The Gaelic Athletic Association (The GAA)
The Gaelic Athletic Association is more than a sporting organization. Although it is dedicated to promoting the games of hurling, football, handball, rounders, and camogie, the GAA also supports activities that enrich the culture of the nation and further Gaelic ideals, including the Irish language and Irish music and dance. The GAA endeavors to strengthen pride in the communities it serves.
Gaelic Football can be described as a mixture of soccer, rugby and basketball! It is a field game, which has developed as a distinct game similar to the progression of Australian rules football. For the uninitiated, this is a great video showing what Gaelic Football is all about.
It is an intense sport requiring a high degree of athleticism and fitness.
The ball used in Gaelic Football is round, and slightly smaller than a soccer ball. It can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can be kicked or “hand-passed” (a striking motion with the hand or fist). After every four steps, the ball must be either bounced or “solo-ed” (an action of dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand). You may not bounce the ball twice in a row.
To score, you put the ball over the crossbar by foot or hand/fist for one point or under the crossbar and into the net by foot or the hand/fist in certain circumstances for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.
Hurling is the fastest and one of the most dangerous field sports in the world. Check it out.
It’s a game similar to hockey, in that it is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. The stick, or “hurley” is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The ball or “sliothar” is similar in size to a hockey puck but has raised ridges.
You may strike the ball on the ground or in the air. Unlike hockey, you may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it for not more than four steps in the hand – as one or ten of the 15 guys on the other team tries to take it from you!
To score, you put the ball over the crossbar with the hurley or under the crossbar and into the net by the hurley for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.
Each team consists of fifteen players, lining out as follows: One goalkeeper, three fullbacks, three halfbacks, two midfielders, three half-forwards and three full-forwards.