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GAA Sports

Gambling on GAA sports is the preserve of the Irish people mainly because the rest of the world has no idea about any of it so for their sake we have here a brief history. The Gaelic Athletic Association regulates and organises a range of sports in Ireland, the most popular of which are Gaelic Football and Hurling. The GAA traces its history back to 1877, when Michael Cusack opened his academy in Dublin for Irish students preparing for their Civil Service examinations. His students were actively encouraged to play Rugby, Cricket, Rowing and Weight Throwing during their time at the academy, but Cusack also started to take an interest in indigenous Irish sports and in 1882 he attended the first meeting of the Dublin Hurling Club. At the time, regular weekly games of hurling in the Phoenix Park were proving very popular although if any gambling on hurling took place it was underground but it encouraged Cusack to establish the Cusack’s Academy Hurling Club in 1883, later to become the Metropolitan Hurling Club. In 1884, during a game between Metropolitan and Killiomor in Galway, it became obvious to Cusack that the rules of the game needed to be standardised and regulated in some way.

He started lobbying in the nationalistic press, and called a meeting in Hayes’s Commercial Hotel, Thurles on November 1st 1884. This was the first meeting of the Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of national Pastimes, from which the current GAA evolved.

The initial years of the organisation were fractious with splits arising on political lines. Both sides were eventually brought together by Archbishop Croke at a meeting in January 1888.

Archbishop Croke died in 1902, and from 1905 to 1913 attempts were made to raise funds for a memorial to be erected in his honour. The fund raising was not particularly well organised, but in 1913 it was decided to arrange a Croke Memorial Tournament, comprising Gaelic Football and Hurling, and this was so successful that the profits enabled the GAA to purchase the Jones Road Sports Ground for £ 3,500. It was then renamed as ‘Croke Park ’.

Whilst the GAA itself initially attempted to remain out of politics, many of its members were actively involved in the ‘ Rising ‘ in 1916, and the playing of Gaelic games was severely disrupted during this period of Ireland’s history. In 1918, in defiance of the British Authorities, a series of games were organised to take place throughout the Country on Sunday August 4 th, and this famously became known as ‘Gaelic Sunday ‘. On Sunday, 12st November 1920, Croke Park was the scene of one of the worst incidents of the Rising, when the British Army opened fire on the crowd following a series of shootings of undercover British agents overnight. This was of course the original ‘ Bloody Sunday ‘.

In 1924, after the civil war, the provisional government decided to stage the Tailteann Games, centred on Croke Park, and awarded a grant of £ 10,000 which was used to purchase and erect the Hogan Stand at Croke Park.

During the Second World War, the playing of and gambling on Gaelic games was again severely curtailed, although the GAA in Britain did manage to play their championships throughout. After the war, the 1947 All Ireland Senior Football final was held in New York, leading to the formation of many new clubs all over America. In 1958, the British GAA staged an exhibition of Gaelic games at Wembley Stadium, and this was so successful that it became an annual event until 1975, and was known as ‘ Wembley at Whit ‘.

Another significant event in the history of Gaelic games was the establishment of Teletis Eireann in 1961, which brought live televised games to a much wider audience for the first time and added interest to the gambling public.

The new Croke Park, with a capacity of 82,300, was opened in 2003 and has since, for the first time hosted both Rugby and Soccer whilst Landsdowne Road was being redeveloped.

Gaelic Football and Hurling are played on a rectangular pitch up to 145 metres long and up to 90 metres wide. At each end of the pitch are goal posts similar to rugby posts, but with the crossbar lower than in rugby but higher than in soccer. Teams comprise 15 players on the pitch at any one time, and the games are played over two halves, each of 30 or 35 minute duration. In both games, a Goal is scored by propelling the ball between the uprights below the crossbar, and is worth 3 points. A point can also be scored by propelling the ball between the uprights over the crossbar. The winner is of course the team who score the most points in the game.

Gaelic Football is played with a ball slightly smaller than a soccer ball, and a player can carry the ball for a maximum of four steps, after which the player must kick the ball, strike the ball with his hand or fist to pass to another player, or bounce the ball. He can also drop the ball onto his foot and kick it back into his hands, known as the ball being ‘ Solo-ed ‘.

Hurling is played with a ball or ‘ sliotar ‘, which is a similar size to a hockey ball. The players must wear helmets with face guards, and strike the ball with a stick or ‘ hurley ‘. Hurling is thought to be one of the world’s oldest games, if not the oldest. Again the player can run with the ball in his hand for a maximum of four steps, before he must use his stick to pass the ball to another player, or bounce the ball on his stick. To avoid the four step rule, you will often see a player carrying the ball on his stick. Unlike in Football, a player is not allowed to pick the ball up from the ground with his hand, he must use his stick.

Both games have a variety of set plays, and of course fouls, which are too numerous to detail here but can be found in the GAA Rule Books.

Both games are also the subject of significant gambling, not just on the final result, but points scored, points difference, first points, or scorer. If you wish to gamble on Gaelic football or Hurling you can find most games at the well known bookmakers such as Paddy Power or Ladbrokes.