Alright Heathens, gather round and get your culture. Today is the first round of the All Ireland Football Championship, and with a little effort you can learn to appreciate another art form. Gaelic Games have been played in Ireland since pre-history. Cú Chulainn is said to have been very adept at Hurling, and got his name by striking a sliotar (the name of the ball in Hurling) into the mouth of a hound and killing it. Since there was no longer a hound to guard the house of the man he was visiting, he took the name Hound of Culann and guarded the house until a new one could be trained. Football is not quite that old, though it was certainly being played in Ireland in the early middle ages.
There are four surviving games under the patronage of the Gaelic Athletic Association : Gaelic Football, Hurling, Handball, and Camogie. Since Camogie and Handball have nominally split off, we will focus on the two more popular games, Football and Hurling. The GAA was founded in 1884 to combat the growth of foreign games in Ireland. Gaelic Games had been declining for many years and the GAA sought to put an end to that. In their aims they were very successful, and both soccer and rugby fell behind Football, while Hurling eliminated Cricket almost entirely.
This are the dimensions of a Gaelic Football pitch;
Officially only one formation is in use, though coaches and managers have long ceased to play strictly by it. Excluding a goalkeeper the formation goes 3-3-2-3-3. The First three are known as the Full back Line. The Next three are the Half Back Line and the Next two are Midfielders. Following them are the Half Forwards and Full Forwards.
The rules of the games are fairly simple, and are better learned by watching than by reading. Even so, here are a few basic ones;
(1) When the ball is on the ground it may be played by any part of the body other than the hands. It may be lifted into the hands by the feet.
(2) When a player is in possession of the ball it may be;
(i) carried in the hands for four consecutive steps or held for no longer than the time needed to take four steps
(ii) Played from the foot to the hands. (a Solo/ Toe tap)
(iii) bounced once, and additionally once after each toe tap
(iv) struck with the open hand or fist provided there is a definite striking action
(v) tossed for a kick, toe tap, or pass with the hands.
(3) Scores are gotten by (a) Kicking or Fistpassing the ball over the bar between the posts, known as a point, which is worth 1, or (b) by kicking the ball across the line below the bar and between the posts, known as a goal, which is worth 3.
There are many simple instructional videos on YouTube which will aid understanding before I show some actual games to ye.
And GAA's "Match of the Day" - The Sunday Game -
The All Ireland competition is played every year by the 32 Counties, plus New York and London. The GAA is an amateur organisation and no player at any level is played. However, the county championship is at a professional standard. The Championship is split into provincial championships to start (Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connacht) with the winners going through and the losers playing qualifiers. Last year's winners were Dublin. My own county is Meath, and we are not doing too well at the minute. This is the breakdown of preference county by county;
And now I think, you are all ready to throw yourselves in at the deep end of a game of Gaelic Football, and learn as you go along. Please, feel free to ask any questions you might have regarding rules or anything else. I'll do another one of these on Hurling soon, but in all honesty, the rules are much the same save for a few important differences.