Gaelic Football - The Original Beautiful Game

Gaelic football combines the suspense of soccer, the skills and scoring of basketball, and the speed of the fastest sports in the world in a free-flowing action-packed sport.

What is Gaelic Football?

Gaelic football, commonly referred to as "Gaelic" or "football", is an old sport originating in Ireland.  Gaelic football as it is known today dates back to the late 19th century while the first historical recording of the sport dates back to the early 14th century.  Gaelic is the most popular sport in Ireland today, and is growing fast around the world.  ​

Like soccer and basketball, there is no other equipment needed to play Gaelic football other than the ball itself.  The leather ball is about the same size and weighs a little bit more than a soccer ball.

How to Play

To gain possession, players can catch the ball out of the air or off a bounce.  If the ball is on the ground, the player must perform the legal pick up.  Players may not pick the ball up off the ground with their hands so they must "scoop" the ball up into their hands with their foot.

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After taking five steps with the ball, the player must either pass the ball or "reset" their steps.  The player can choose to bounce it off the grass like in basketball or solo the ball by dropping the ball and kicking it back into their hands.  While a player may solo indefinitely, they may not bounce the ball twice in a row.

To pass the ball players may either kick the ball or perform a hand pass by striking the ball out of their hand in a similar way to an underhand volleyball serve.  

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Players can score by either striking the ball over the crossbar and in between the uprights, or by kicking it into the goal.  A point is scored by either kicking or hand passing the ball over the crossbar.  A goal, worth 3 points, is scored by kicking the ball into the net, not by hand passing it in. 

The Playing Field

​A Gaelic football field is very similar to a soccer field, but much larger.  In fact, a regulation field is about 3 times larger than some soccer fields.  The field is rectangular stretching 140-160 yards long and 90-100 yards wide.  There are 2 H-shaped goals at either end of the field formed by 2 tall posts and connected by a crossbar.  They resemble a soccer goal with American football field goal posts.

Teams in Ireland consist of 15 players a side and they line out as shown in the picture and these fields are about 3 times the size of a soccer field!  Since we don't have fields that big in the US we play 11 or 13 players a side.​

Equipment

The only piece of equipment that all players are required to wear is a mouth guard.  Some players wear gloves to help them catch the ball these gloves are very similar to the gloves a wide receiver would wear playing American football.

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©2019 National Collegiate Gaelic Athletic Association

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