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Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Tuesday, 11 October 2005 14:46 UK

Learn the basics of Gaelic sports

Learn the basics

Gaelic football has been described as a cross between rugby and association football - but the Gaelic game came first.

Like rugby, there are 15 players in a team, but like football a round ball is used.

From the local junior team to the all-Ireland final at the highly impressive Croke Park stadium, the passion and commitment on the pitch are the same all over.

Its origins pre-date recorded history, but the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded in 1884.

It is not only in Ireland that Gaelic football is played.

Clubs are now well established in America, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada and mainland Europe.

The game is also played in many other parts of the world where there are large numbers of Irish people.

Indeed a team in New York competes in the all-Ireland Championship each year.

There is an annual International Rules series played between Ireland and Australia.

The rules of that particular game being a mix of Gaelic football and Australian Rules football.

It is thought that Australian Rules was based on Gaelic Football after the game was taken to the other side of the World by those who were deported or who emigrated there a couple of hundred years ago.

There are now over 2,500 clubs within Ireland alone, these clubs feed into the county system.

That is where 32 teams compete each year to be All-Ireland Champions and lift football's coveted Sam Maguire trophy.


The team scoring the highest number of total points wins the game.

Three points are scored when the ball passes between the posts beneath the crossbar, with the whole of the ball crossing the end line.

However, one point can be scored if the ball goes over the crossbar as long as it passes between the posts.

If the totals are level then the game is drawn.


A coin is tossed by the referee and the winning captain has the choice of which end to play from in the first-half.

Two players from each side stand one behind the other on their own side of the halfway line facing the referee with the remaining players standing in their respective positions around the field of play

The referee then throws the ball into the air over the head of the players into play. This is known as a throw-in.

When a goal or point is scored, play is started by the goalkeeper of the team which has just conceded the goal or point.

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