Sport in Ireland

The Irish love their sport and the national football and rugby sides regularly take part in international competitions. Golf is also very popular in the country with the nation boasting some world class players of the sport. Aside from the common sports played in most country’s Ireland is famous for its Gaelic games.

Gaelic Football

Gaelic football is often referred to as Gaelic or football in Ireland. It is a sport played between two teams of 15 players with the objective being to score points by getting a goal. Players advance the football, a spherical leather ball, up the field with a combination of carrying, bouncing, kicking, hand-passing, and soloing (dropping the ball and then toe-kicking the ball upward into the hands). In the game, two types of scores are possible: points and goals. A point is awarded for kicking or hand-passing the ball over the crossbar, signalled by the umpire raising a white flag. A goal is awarded for kicking the ball under the crossbar into the net, signalled by the umpire raising a green flag. The sport is incredibly popular in the country with up to 80,000 spectators attending the end of season All-Ireland Final.


Quite possibly one of the oldest sports in existence, Hurling is thought to have been played as long ago as the prehistoric age. It is 3000 years old and is regularly described as the fastest field team game anywhere in the world. The aim of the game is for the players to use a wooden stick called a Hurley to hit a small ball between the opponent’s goal posts, if it goes over the crossbar you score one point if you get it into the net defended by a goalkeeper you score three. T he ball can be caught in the hand and carried for not more than four steps, struck in the air, or struck on the ground with the Hurley. It can be kicked or slapped with an open hand (the hand pass) for short-range passing. A player who wants to carry the ball for more than four steps has to bounce or balance the ball on the end of the stick and the ball can only be handled twice while in his possession.

Gaelic Handball

Known as just Handball, it is a sport played in Ireland where players hit a ball with their hands or fists against a wall in such a way that the opposition cannot make a return strike. Similar to squash this high paced game can played between two or four players with the objective being to reach a set number of points before your opponent does.