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Gaelic Games

Gaelic Games are the ancient Irish sports of Gaelic Football, Hurling, & Camogie. History states that the Gaelic Athletic Association, or the GAA, was officially founded in a hotel in County Tipperary in 1884. However, these games were played well before this date and there is reference made to these games in Irish Folklore.

Teams were, and are still today, organized by locality. This meant that competition was for love of town and village and was thus very fierce. Time has not dulled this competitive spirit as todayís games are as fiercely contested. It is no wonder that Gaelic Games are Irelandís national pastime.

In the US, Gaelic Games are played in many cities under the guidance of the North American County Board. Our neighbors in Washington DC have a club with 3 teams that was founded in 1988 and are celebrating 15 successful years this year.

Gaelic Football

It's not American football. It's not soccer. It's not rugby. Gaelic football is played on a field larger than a soccer or American football field. To score, a player must get a soccer-type ball into the net of a goal (for three points or what is called a 'goal') or through the uprights above the goal (for one point or what is called a 'point'). Gaelic footballers use their hands and there is no off-sides. To move the ball, a player is allowed to kick it, punch it (but not throw it), run with the ball for three strides, bounce it (but only once) or solo it (to drop the ball to one's foot and tap it back into one's hands while running, remembering not to take more than three strides in between solos).

No other sport offers you the thrill of soccer, the tactics of rugby and the skill of basketball!



The High Catch

Players dual for a 'high' ball. Players can 'pluck' balls from the air. Very high balls are said to have 'snow on it'.


The Solo

Dropping the ball from your hands and 'toe tapping' it back into your hands is called a Solo.


The Tackle

The Defender in green attempts to win possession from the attacker in blue and yellow.


The Midfield Battle

An artists impression of the midfield battle where 6 players try to win possession of the ball.


Hurling / Camogie

Women play camogie and men play hurling!

These are the fastest field games in the world. They are played with a small ball, called a sliotar, which is similar in size to a field hockey ball but with raised edges, and a curved wooden stick, called a hurley, which is curved outwards at the end to provide the striking surface. Hurling is played on the same field as Gaelic football and with the same style of goalposts. The methods of scoring also are the same -- three points, or a goal, for striking the ball into the net or one point, or a point, for striking it through the uprights.

A player may strike the ball on the ground or in the air. Unlike field hockey, however, a player may pick up the ball and carry it for no more than four strides. After those steps, the player may bounce the ball on the hurley and back into the player's hand, remembering not to catch the ball more than twice. While running, the player must balance the ball on the hurley stick.


What is Camogie (Ka-Moe-Gee)?

For a review of camogie in the Washington Post:

Camogie is an ancient Irish sport that is one of the fastest field games in the world. In Ireland this sport dates back to 1904, when Cumann Camogaiochta na nGael was founded to promote Irish sports for women. In Ireland, there are 15 players on each team, in the US, it ranges from 13-15 player-a-side.
In the states, teams are mostly limited to areas of dense Irish immigrants
  1. Washington DC: Gaels- founded 1999
  2. Boston: Eire Og and Emerald Isle- founded 1977 and 1984
  3. New York: Naomh Padraig- founded 2003
  4. Milwaukee: Clash-founded 2001
  5. Chicago: St. Mary's and Limericks
  6. San Francisco- Shamrocks
It is based on the mens game of hurling, and Americans can appreciate camogie as a wacky combination of field hockey and lacrosse.
Players use sticks called hurleys (hurls) and small leather balls called (sliotars)

To move the ball down the field a player may:
  1. Hit (Puck) the ball on the ground (like hockey) or in the air (like lax) to another player
  2. Catch it in your hand and kick or handpass it to another player
  3. Balance the ball on your hurl (like an egg on spoon race) while running down the field
  4. You can not pick the sliothar off the ground with you hand!
The goal is similar to American football uprights, with a soccer net underneath the cross bar. Points can be scored in 2 ways:
  1. Over the cross bar is 1 points
  2. Under the cross bar is 3 points
A game score might read Washington DC Gaels (3-4) vs Eire Og (1-4), the Gaels won this game because they got 3 goals (9pt) and 3 points, a total of 12 points, and Eire Of got a goal (3 pt) and 4 points, so 7 total.


The Equipment

The stick is called the 'Hurley', the ball is called the 'Sliothar'.


The High Catch

Catching a ball traveling 100 mph takes skill.


The Solo

A player can run with the ball on their Hurley to cover more ground.


An artists impression of Camogie on a hillside in Ireland