The establishment of GAA in 1884 was the defining moment in the history of native games in Ireland. Gaelic football is among the four sports which are collectively referred to as Gaelic games and controlled by GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), the largest sporting organization in Ireland. The other games regulated by GAA include hurling, handball and camogie.
Gaelic football is like a cross between rugby and soccer and it is closely associated with Australian Football. It is played with a spherical leather ball that is smaller but heavier than a soccer ball and it is played against H’ shaped goal posts similar to those used in Rugby. This game has two types of scores. One point is given after the ball is hand passed or kicked over the crossbar which is signaled by the umpire raising a white flag and three points are given after theball is kicked into the net under the crossbar signaled by the umpire raising a green flag.
This game is not meant for the feint hearted. It is extremely physical. Players can either handle or kick the ball but to make the game more difficult and interesting, they are not allowed to travel with the ball for more than four steps. To kick the ball back into the hand, a player should first drop it on his foot or bounce it on the ground. This is referred to as soloing.
Gaelic football is played by 15 men on each team. A goalkeeper, three half backs, a full back, two corner backs, three half forwards, two midfielders a full forward and two corner forwards plus upto fifteen substitutes. The games usually lasts 60 minutes except during All-Ireland semi finals when they last for 80 minutes, they have two halves and they are controlled by four goal umpires and one referee.
Competitive Gaelic football is played at county & club level with the Inter-County Championships being the biggest competition in the game. During the championship, the 32 counties in Ireland compete for a place in the All Ireland finals which are held every September at Croke Park. This is the most prestigious event in Gaelic football drawing over 80,000 people to cheer their home county teams with the hope of lifting the Sam Maguire Cup.
Over the years, County Kerry has dominated the championship being crowned most times than any other county team. They are followed by Dublin County with other teams such as Tyrone and Armagh rising slowly to prominence.
With thousands of Gaelic football fans, it is no surprise that gambling is a massive business in Ireland. There is serious amount of betting on Gaelic games with Irish people gambling over €3 every year. One can bet on the All-Ireland Gaelic Football Championships or any other top games on the
Unlike in the past, today, Gaelic football is not only played in Ireland. Clubs have been established in Australia, America Britain, New Zealand, Mainland Europe and Canada. This game is also played in other parts of the world with high number of Irish people.