The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is Ireland’s largest sporting organisation. It is celebrated as one of the great amateur sporting associations in the world.
It is part of the Irish consciousness and plays an influential role in Irish society that extends far beyond the basic aim of promoting Gaelic games.
It was founded on November 1 1884 at a meeting in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, by a group of spirited Irishmen who had the foresight to realize the importance of establishing a national organisation to make athletics more accessible to the masses and to revive and nurture traditional,indigenous sports and pastimes. At that time, it was largely only the gentry and aristocracy who were allowed to meaningfully participate in athletics.
Until then all that was Irish was being steadily eroded by emigration, intense poverty and outside influences. Within six months of that famous first meeting, GAA clubs began to spring up all over Ireland and people began to play the games of Hurling and Gaelic Football and take part in Athletic events with pride.
The Association today promotes Gaelic games such as Hurling, Football, Handball and Rounders and works with sister organisations to promote Ladies Football and Camogie. The Association also promotes Irish music, song and dance and the Irish language as an integral part of its objectives. The GAA has remained an amateur Association since its founding. Players, even at the highest level, do not receive payment for playing and the volunteer ethos remains one of the most important aspects of the GAA.
The organisation is based on the traditional parishes and counties of Ireland. As a community-based organisation, it is often stated that it is difficult to determine where the community end sand the GAA club starts as they generally overlap and are intertwined. The GAA has over 2,200 clubs in all 32 counties of Ireland.
Every summer the inter-county All-Ireland Championships in hurling and football capture the attention of the Irish public, and regional towns heave with the arrival of large numbers of supporters and the color, noise and excitement that they bring. In the region of 1.5 million people attend the GAA Championships from May to September.
However, by far the two biggest days in the GAA calendar are the All-Ireland finals in hurling and football. A sell out attendance of 82,300 is guaranteed in Croke Park and the quest for tickets is intense as Ireland’s top counties do battle for the right to be All-Ireland champions.The finals are broadcast around the world.The GAA has developed abroad amongst the Irish Diaspora. The Irish who emigrated brought their national games with them and both regional and club units are now well established in the United States of America, Australia,Britain, Canada, China, mainland Europe and many other parts of the world.
Gaelic Football is a distinctly Irish field invasion game played with a round football which can be caught, kicked and hand passed.
The ball used in Gaelic Football is round, slightly smaller than a soccer ball.
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.
A goal is signaled by raising a green flag, placed to the left of the goal. A point is signaled by raising a white flag, placed to the right of goal.
Officials for a game comprise of a referee, two linesmen (to indicate when the ball leaves the field of play at the side and to mark '45’ free kicks and four umpires (to signal scores, assist the referee in controlling the games, and to assist linesmen in positioning '45' frees).
The Ladies Gaelic Football Association was founded in Hayes Hotel, Thurles, County Tipperary on 18 July 1974. Four counties, Offaly, Kerry, Tipperary and Galway attended the meeting. However, eight counties namely Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Waterford, Galway, Roscommon, Laois and Offaly participated in the first official All Ireland Senior Championship of that year, which was won by Tipperary.
Today, Ladies Gaelic Football is played in all counties in Ireland. It is also played in Africa, Asia, Australia, Britain, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, South America and the USA on an organised basis. It is imperative for our Association to maintain and foster our supportive contact with our International units
Ladies Gaelic Football is almost identical to its male counterpart being played on the same field with equivalent equipment and under the same basic set of playing rules.
There are minor rule variations in comparison with Gaelic Football, in particular players are allowed to pick the ball directly from the ground but the shoulder charge is not allowed when contesting for the ball.
Ladies Gaelic Football is recognized as one of the fastest growing female sports in Europe. Founded in 1974 the Ladies Gaelic Football Association has over 1000 clubs in Ireland (with 5 in Toronto) and membership growing is by the day, as the game reaches women and girls from all over the country.
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