In Ireland, a national organization more than any other expresses the soul of the nation. It is not a political or religious organization, but it gathers thousands of followers and its events arouse fervor among the population: farmers, workers, teachers and children are among its members. It is unique to the island, it is the Gaelic Sports Association (GAA).
Founded in 1884, the GAA was created to revitalize those Irish national pastimes that were in danger of disappearing after the popularization of English sports such as football or ‘rugby’. The revival of traditional sports contributed greatly to a broader sense of irish nationalism growing up within the country, which at that time was still part of the UK. The association had seven founding members, but the driving force behind its creation was Michael Cusack, an Irish teacher who was actively involved in the Gaelic revival struggle to preserve the Irish language and customs.
Components such as tradition, heritage or passion are fused in ancestral sports of the island such as Gaelic football, hurling, rounders and handball, the four specialties that make up the Gaelic games, sponsored by the GAA. Today, the association promotes the games and their various tournaments, and has remained an ‘amateur’ organization since its founding. Players, even at the highest level, they do not receive any remuneration for playing, and the spirit of volunteering remains one of the most important aspects.
Football played with hands and feet
Gaelic football is played by teams of 15 people on a rectangular grass pitch with H-shaped goals at each end. A slightly smaller ball is used than a conventional soccer ball, which can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can be passed by striking it with the hand or with a kick. After the four steps, the ball must bounce or pass alone, an action that consists of dropping the ball on the foot and kicking it back into the hand. You cannot bounce the ball twice in a row and to score you have to pass it over the crossbar with your foot, hand or fist to score a point, or under the crossbar and into the net with your foot to score a goal. , which is equal to three points.
There is a female variant of gaelic football very similar to men’s, but managed by an independent organization – the Gaelic Women’s Football Association (LGFA). The game itself is almost identical, except that the duration of the match is 60 minutes (in the men’s version it is 70), a smaller ball is used and all deliberate body contact is prohibited, except when it comes to ‘casting a shadow ” to an opponent, compete to catch the ball or block the delivery of the ball.
The Sam Maguire Cup It has been awarded each year to Gaelic football champions from across Ireland since 1928. This award was designed in Dublin to resemble the early Christian Ardagh Chalice and its name honors Sam Maguire, a player of the sport who lived in London and He was heavily involved in the GAA scene in the British capital in the early 20th century.
The fastest field game in the world
Hurling is characterized by its fast game, which is played with wooden sticks called ‘hurleys’ (similar to’ hockey ‘sticks, but with much wider and flatter heads) and a hard ball known as’ sliotar ‘. It is considered the fastest field sport in the world, and it is probably also one of the most dangerousAs players can catch the ball with their hands and hit it in the air with the ‘hurley’, as if it were a baseball bat or a tennis racket.
Unlike ‘hockey’, players can catch the ball with the ‘hurley’ and carry it for no more than four steps in hand. After those steps, they have to bounce the ball off the ‘hurley’ and return to the hand, but it is forbidden to catch the ball more than twice. The way of marking is very similar to Gaelic football, except that instead of the hand the wooden stick is used. Likewise, if the ball passes over the crossbar, one point is awarded, while if it enters the net, three are awarded.
There is a female version of ‘hurling’ known as ‘camogie’, with some differences in the rules of the game, especially related to scoring and tackling. Like the men’s version, it is played between two teams of 15 members on a rectangular grass field.
Since 1923 the Liam MacCarthy Cup It is awarded each year to hurling champions from across Ireland. This award was named in honor of Liam MacCarthy, former chairman of the GAA London County Board. Likewise, the Poc Fada Championship, which means ‘long disk’ in Irish, is held nationally each year and tests the skills of many of the best hurling and camogie players. Competitors must climb to the top of Mount Carn an Mhadaidh by hitting a ‘sliotar’ with the ‘hurley’ and, after a short rest, go back down to finish in the town of Aghameen. The complete route measures more than 5 kilometers.
The basic rules of the game are to use your hand to hit a ball and make it hit a front wall and bounce twice before the opponent can return it. Players should wear gloves and eye protectors, as the small rubber ball used can reach speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour.
In Ireland four formats of this sport are played: ‘small alley’, ‘wall ball’, ‘softball’ and ‘hardball’, which are differentiated by the number of walls of the court, the size of the same and the type of ball that is used. It can be played singly or in doubles. ‘Small alley’, the most popular version, is played on a 12×6 meter closed court with four walls.
The father of baseball
Rounders is a very popular sport among Irish schoolchildren, played at all age levels and in mixed teams. It is a game of bat and ball similar to baseball. It is generally accepted that baseball has its roots in the sport of rounders and is believed to have been brought to the United States by the first Irish emigrants.
It is played between two teams and there are five innings. One team pitches while the other bats, and then they exchange after three outs. There cannot be more than nine players on the field at any one time, but up to three substitutions can be made during a game. To score the points, or ’rounders’, a batter must complete the circuit of four bases that make up the field of play. Three balls are thrown to each batter, whose team must score as many circuits as they can before the outfield team eliminates three opposing players.
The mythical Croke Park and the All Ireland finals
Croke Park, the headquarters of the GAA, is not only the center of Gaelic sports, but the heart of a major international community and the epicenter of the city of Dublin. Since 1884, the Croker, as locals know it, has been the main venue for the annual All-Ireland Finals. With capacity for 82,300 spectators, This mythical arena is the fourth largest stadium in Western Europe, behind the Camp Nou in Barcelona (99,786), Wembley in London (90,000) and the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid (85,454).
On November 21, 2020, Croke Park commemorated 100 years of the Bloody Sunday, when British forces opened fire on the crowd attending a Gaelic football match in the same stadium, killing 14 people. The events occurred during the Irish War of Independence.
Held in September at Croke Park, the All-Ireland Final is the culmination of the Hurling, Gaelic Football, Camogie and Women’s Gaelic Football Championships, and is one of Ireland’s biggest annual sporting events. These events attract a world television audiencely are among the most watched television shows in Ireland.
Every player’s dream is to reach an All-Ireland final and have a chance to win gold. Tickets to this event are notoriously hard to come by and sell out instantly. The coveted cups – the Sam Maguire from Gaelic football, Liam MacCarthy from ‘hurling’, O’Duffy from ‘camogie’ and the Brendan Martin from Gaelic women’s football – are displayed in the stadium’s most iconic grandstand, the Hogan Stand. .
Gaelic games are now played around the world and popular with members of the Irish diaspora in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Asia. They are also becoming popular in Canada, where sports like baseball and hockey provide new fans with some key skills.
Similarly, these sports have had a renaissance in recent years in Argentina, with the support of the GAA and thanks to the dedicated efforts of the enthusiasts of the hurling clubs of Buenos Aires.
In 2019 the GAA World Games in Ireland, in which about 1,300 athletes from 97 teams from different parts of the world participated. That was the third edition of the competition and the most massive to date.