What is Gaelic Football?


What is Gaelic Football?

Gaelic football is one of four Gaelic Games run by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), the largest and most popular organization in Ireland. It is very popular throughout the world (over 7000 clubs worldwide).The players are all amateurs, and so are playing for “the glory of the parish pump”.The pinnacle of the sport is the inter county All-Ireland Football Final. The game is believed to have descended from ancient Irish football known as caid which dates back to 1537, although the modern game took shape in 1887.


Is Gaelic Football similar to other sports?

Gaelic Football is a field game and is played with a round ball, slightly smaller than a soccer ball. The sport is often described as a mixture of soccer and rugby, although this can be a misleading comparison as it really is a distinct sport and thus hard to compare! It predates both both soccer and rugby.


For anyone familiar with Australian Rules Football, it is thought that Australian Rules evolved from Gaelic Football through the many thousands who were either deported or immigrated to Australia from the middle of the nineteenth century.


Do I need experience to play with the Gaels?

Absolutely not! Just a good attitude and willingness to learn new things. Every year we have new players join our team, who are completely unfamiliar with the sport.


How is the sport played?

Below is an overview of the key rules in Gaelic Football. It should be noted that there are some rule differences between men’s and ladies football. The information below is specific to men’s football.

The Ball: Gaelic Football is played with a round ball, slightly smaller, and heavier than a soccer ball.
The Field: The playing area is a rectangular field, approximately 137 meters long, and 82 meters wide. In Houston we will often utilize a soccer field, which has smaller dimensions.













Goalposts: The goalposts are the same basic shape as rugby or American Football goalposts, but the crossbar is lower than in rugby and it has netting similar to a soccer net.

Scoring: There are two methods for scoring:
1. A Point: When the ball goes over the crossbar and between the uprights it is worth one (1) point. This is accomplished by either kicking or hand-passing.
2. A Goal: When the ball is put under the crossbar and between the uprights, it is worth three (3) points. This can be accomplished:
a) When the ball is in the attackers possession and control, he may score a goal by kicking the ball.
b) Or, if the ball is in the air, and in nobody's possession, the attacker may punch it directly into the net, much like a spike in volleyball.
3. When a score is given to the attacking team, the kickout is taken from the 21-yard line.

General Rules:
1. 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.
2. After every four steps the ball must either be bounced or "solo-ed", an action of dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand.

3. You may not bounce the ball twice in a row.
4. Players may not lift the ball directly from the ground. However, in ladies' Gaelic football, the ball may be picked up directly. The toe may be used to lift the ball from the ground, into the hands.
5. If a player illegally lifts the ball from the ground, the opposing team regains possession, and a free is taken from the point where the foul occurred.


How many players on a Gaelic football team?

The following are the positions of Gaelic Football. Like rugby and baseball (and unlike soccer), these have set positions which haven't changed in decades. In most cases, each player sticks firmly to his position.

Each team consists of one goalkeeper (who wears a different color jersey), five backs, two mid fielders, and five forwards: thirteen players in all. This is slightly different to the game in Ireland, where fifteen players are utilized. In the USA a full back and full forward position are removed (usually because the size of field we play on is smaller than a regulation GAA field). The positions are listed below, with the jersey number usually worn by players in that position given.