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Gaelic Football v Soccer

Updated on September 25, 2011

"In our lives we will encounter many challenges, and tomorrow we face one together. How we accept the challenge and attack the challenge head on is only about us--no one can touch that. If we win or lose this weekend, it will not make a difference in our lives. But why we play and how we play will make a difference in our lives forever."
---Beth Anders

Gaelic Football


It was All - Ireland Final day on the 18th of September 2011 (Dublin – Kerry), and as always the build-up, the atmosphere and the game did not disappoint. It`s fair to say that I am absolutely crazy about football in general, but the quality of recent Premiere League, Serie A and Champions League games, refereeing blunders and lazy, spoiled footballers left me bemused.

While watching the brilliant Gaelic final between Dublin and the mighty Kerry (after a terrible 90 minutes wasted on Tottenham v Liverpool), I couldn`t help but start comparing Gaelic Football to Soccer. I am clearly aware that the two sports are rather different in a lot of ways; however I believe, that there is a reasonable ground to make this comparison. By the way, in Ireland if you are talking about football, most people will assume you mean Gaelic football.

at the other hand......Diving in soccer....



It`s fair to say that most people at this side of the World (i.e Europe) are pretty familiar with the rules of soccer, even with the rather confusing offside rule. (Mind you the offside rule itself isn`t complicated at all, it`s the referee and/or linesmen who usually seem to get completely bewildered at times while making match changing decisions). Now, at the other hand, the rules of Gaelic football are a tad bit more complicated. Gaelic Football can be described as a mixture of soccer, rugby, and little bit of volleyball. The ball in fact resembles a volleyball, and the players do a bit of everything with it in order to score: bouncing it on the turf, throwing it, kicking it, running with it, the whole nine yards really. So here it goes:

Gaelic Football is played on a pitch approximately 137m long and 82m wide. The goalposts are the same shape as the ones on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than in rugby and slightly higher than in soccer. The ball can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can also be kicked or "hand-passed" with the hand or fist. After every four steps the ball must be either bounced or with a quick motion kicked back into the hand. Important to note, that the player cannot bounce the ball twice in a row. To score, the ball must be put over the crossbar by foot or hand for one point or under the crossbar and into the net by foot or hand to get a goal and with that all three points. Each team consists of fifteen players: One goalkeeper, three full-backs, three half-backs, two midfielders, three half-forwards and three full-forwards.

NOTE: Unlike in soccer, there is no way you will ever witness a goalles draw in Galic football. Also you can forget about screaming "handball" towards the ref and trying to get a decision in your favour because of that.

soccer linesman


and a Gaelic football umpire....



Unlike overpaid and spoiled rotten soccer players, Gaelic footballers actually do not get paid for playing for their club or county, as all Gaelic games are strictly amateur. That obviously means that Gaelic players have to have a normal everyday job (teachers, bankers, carpenters, etc) to support themselves and their families, as well as they must find time before or after work to train and practice. Needless to say, this aspect of the game only adds further value to this already amazing tradition. Put that in contrast with last year`s main soccer story, when Wayne Rooney was ready to walk out on Manchester United, until the club eventually caved in and offered him a whopping £250K per week contract.

Player to mention:

-Paul Galvin – The marmite of Gaelic football. Everyone in Ireland (including Kerry fans) love to hate the self-proclaimed fashion expert with his too tight jeans and ready-to-punch face. That`s said, he is a qualified teacher (Galvin was a secondary school teacher of Geography and Gaeilge in Coláiste Chríost Rí, Cork and St. Brendan's College, Killarney) who also coached the senior school team of St. Brendan's College, Killarney to the All Ireland in 2009. But most importantly he is an excellent right half forward who has won numerous All Ireland titles and has been named as the 1000th All Star. He has also represented Ireland in the International Rules Series. To many people`s surprise, Galvin also plays hurling with his local team Lixnaw. Now, that screams talent, dedication and extreme physical ability. Can you imagine someone like John Terry playing cricket or hockey on top of playing football while having a proper job too? No chance.

NOTE: You will never hear the Irish complaining, that foreign signings will ruin the quality of the All - Ireland Championship.

Paul Galvin



Since its introduction in 1887, Kerry have wont the All - Ireland Championship a record 36 times (1903, 1904, 1909, 1913, 1914, 1924, 1926, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1946, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1962, 1969, 1970, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009) making the The Kingdom the most successful county ever in Gaelic Football history.

The championship is organized based on the old Irish county system. 34 teams represent the original 32 counties, but there are also teams from London, New York, Asia, Australia and Europe participating in this historic contest. Important to know, that the All – Ireland Senior Football Final is always on the 3rd Sunday of September.

The winning team has then the privilege to take home the prestigious Sam Maguire Cup. (The Sam Maguire Cup was first presented to Kildare, in the 1928 final, after defeating Cavan.)

NOTE: An interesting mix of Gaelic Football and Australian rules football equals: International rules football (Irish - Peil na rialacha idirnáisiunta). It`s basically a series of exhibition test matches between Ireland and Australia, and the test is usually played in around October after the All – Ireland Final.


Without doubt, all sports are great. We love some more than others, and I will never stop loving soccer. However being lucky I am, I live in wonderful Ireland, where I have a choice of watching other amazing ball games, with one (Gaelic Football) being more entertaining than the other (hurling). So if you ever get disillusioned with your soccer team, give Gaelic Football a chance and you will be amazed. Guaranteed.


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    • Donnacha C profile image

      Donnacha C 4 years ago from Ennis, Co Clare, Republic of Ireland

      I most definitely agree that hurling is more exciting than Gaelic! Up the Banner!

    • premierkj profile image

      premierkj 4 years ago from Republic of Ireland

      I can't believe you said gaelic football is more exciting than hurling. Maybe you've changed your tune since last September when Liam McCarthy moved in! I have also become disillusioned with soccer in recent times, more to do with the gulf in class and wealth than anything. English football has become boring since most teams have adopted short passing philosophies. I feel like I spend an awful lot of time these days watching centre backs pass the ball to each other and there's little interest in closing them down. Anyway, keep up the good work Donnacha.

    • Anthony Binks profile image

      Anthony Binks 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      They deserved it.

      All the talk building up to the game was the conditioning work those guys were putting in, sometimes up to three times a day as well as doing their jobs. Pure Legends.

    • Donnacha C profile image

      Donnacha C 5 years ago from Ennis, Co Clare, Republic of Ireland

      thanks Anthony! what a final that was last week, congrats to Donegal

    • Anthony Binks profile image

      Anthony Binks 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Very good hub.

      Being Irish I know exactly why you like Gaelic so much, I have to say one of my favourite things is that it is a contact sport. I sometimes play soccer with a few Gaelic players and you can really feel the difference by the end of the night (mainly from the bruises).

    • Donnacha C profile image

      Donnacha C 6 years ago from Ennis, Co Clare, Republic of Ireland

      thanks moiragallaga! Gaelic football is a truly amazing sport, and hugely entertaining as well.

    • moiragallaga profile image

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Interesting hub Donnacha. I particularly like the photo of Didier Drogba subverting the law of physics, haha.