Irish Sports | Gaelic Football
Gaelic Football is the most popular sports in Ireland but it is almost unknown to the rest of the world. If you do not know about this traditional sport and want to know more, keep reading :)!
The first reference we have about Gaelic Football dates back to 1600s (a game in County Meath in 1670 to be more specific). Between the 17th and the 19th century, Gaelic Football prospered and spread all over the country. But the rise in other popular sports (eg. cricket, soccer, rugby), the famine, and the persecution by local government forces (Gaelic Football was believed to ;be an excuse to cover meetings of nationalist groups); consequently the number of matches plummeted drastically. The situation changed with the creation of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in 1884. This Association formalised all Irish sports: Gaelic Football, Hurling, Camogie, Handball and Rounders. The GAA became the Ireland’s largest sporting organisation, having now over 2,200 clubs in all 32 counties of Ireland.
But, what is Gaelic football?
Gaelic football consists of a game played in a field with a round football that can be caught, kicked and hand passed.
To quote the GAA regulations: “The ball 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. Players may contest for the ball by playing it with the hand or by shoulder charging an opponent side-to-side. To score, you put the ball over the crossbar by foot or 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”.
Another characteristic that discerns Gaelic Football from other sports is its not profit aspect. Players, even in the highest level, do not receive any payment for playing. (Source: GAA)
The Gaelic Football Championship runs every summer from May to September. This event attracts over 1.5 million spectators, making of it one of the most expected events of the year.
The All-Ireland Final match of this season will be on Sunday 17th of September, Dublin vs Mayo for the third time (after 2013 and 2016). Mayo haven’t won the All-Ireland since 1951. Some of you may know about the Curse of ’51. The legend tells that while celebrating for their victory in 1951, the Mayo team passed by a funeral, failing to respect the ceremony. As a consequence, the priest put a course on the team to never win a future All-Ireland final. Curious enough, the team have reached the Final on eight occasions since 1951 but the curse stays unbroken.
All ticket are sold out but you can still watch it in a pub. You can also watch it though your computer by the RTE channel (but you gotta bring your own beer :)) Who do you think will win? Do you believe Mayo will finally break the curse?
If you are interested in learning about other events in Dublin, check this post about Free events in Dublin Summer 2017