The Games

Introduction to Gaelic Football (For Hurling read further down)


Gaelic Football can be described as a mixture of soccer and rugby, although it predates both of those games. It is a field game which has developed as a distinct game similar to the progression of Australian Rules. Indeed it is thought that Australian Rules evolved from Gaelic Football through the many thousands who were either deported or emigrated to Australia from the middle of the twentieth century. Gaelic Football is played on a pitch approximately 137m long and 82m wide. The goalposts are the same shape as on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than a rugby one and slightly higher than a soccer one.

The ball used in Gaelic Football is round, slightly smaller than a soccer ball. It can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can be kicked or “hand-passed”, a striking motion with the hand or fist. After every four steps the ball must be either bounced or “solo-ed”, an action of dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand. You may not bounce the ball twice in a row. To score, you put the ball over the crossbar by foot or hand / fist for one point or under the crossbar and into the net by foot or the hand / fist in certain circumstances for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.

Each team consists of fifteen players, lining out as follows: One goalkeeper, three full-backs, three half-backs, two midfielders, three half-forwards and three full-forwards. The actual line out on the playing field is as follows:

 Goalkeeper

Right corner-back Full-back Left corner-back

Right half-back Centre half-back Left half-back

Midfielder Midfielder

Right half-forword Centre half-fwd Left half-forward

Right corner-fwd Full-fwd Left corner-fwd

Players wear a jersey with their team colours and number on the back. Both teams must have different colour jerseys. The goalkeepers’ jerseys must not be similar to the jersey of any other player. Referees normally tog out in black jerseys, socks and togs.

Goalkeepers may not be physically challenged whilst inside their own small parallelogram, but players may harass them into playing a bad pass, or block an attempted pass.

Teams are allowed a maximum of five substitutes in a game. Players may switch positions on the field of play as much as they wish but this is usually on the instructions of team officials.

Officials for a game comprise of a referee, two linesmen (to indicate when the ball leaves the field of play at the side and to mark ’45” free kicks and 4 umpires (to signal scores, assist the referee in controlling the games, and to assist linesmen in positioning ’45’ frees).

A goal is signalled by raising a green flag, placed to the left of the goal. A point is signalled by raising a white flag, placed to the right of goal. A ’45’/’65’ is signalled by the umpire raising his/her outside arm. A ‘square ball’, when a player scores having arrived in the ‘square’ prior to receiving the ball, is signalled by pointing at the small parallelogram.

 

Introduction to Hurling

Hurling is a game similar to hockey, in that it is played with a small ball and a curved wooden stick. It is Europe’s oldest field game. When the Celts came to Ireland as the last ice age was receding, they brought with them a unique culture, their own language, music, script and unique pastimes. One of these pastimes was a game now called hurling. It features in Irish folklore to illustrate the deeds of heroic mystical figures and it is chronicled as a distinct Irish pastime for at least 2,000 years. The stick, or “hurley” (called camán in Irish) is curved outwards at the end, to provide the striking surface. The ball or “sliothar” is similar in size to a hockey ball but has raised ridges. Hurling is played on a pitch approximately 137m long and 82m wide.

All athletes in hurling are amateur, so you won’t find a single job listing on an Irish Jobs website for a hurler nor for a referee.

The goalposts are the same shape as on a rugby pitch, with the crossbar lower than a rugby one and slightly higher than a soccer one. You may strike the ball on the ground, or in the air. Unlike hockey, you may pick up the ball with your hurley and carry it for not more than four steps in the hand. After those steps you may bounce the ball on the hurley and back to the hand, but you are forbidden to catch the ball more than twice.

To get around this, one of the skills is running with the ball balanced on the hurley To score, you put the ball over the crossbar with the hurley or under the crossbar and into the net by the hurley for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points. Each team consists of fifteen players, lining out as follows: 1 goalkeeper, three full-backs, three half-backs, two midfielders, three half-forwards and three full-forwards. The actual line out on the playing field is as follows:

Goalkeeper  

Right corner-back       Full-back       Left corner-back  

Right half-back       Centre half-back       Left half-back  

Midfielder       Midfielder  

Right half-forward       Centre half-forward       Left half-forward  

Right corner-forward       Full-forward       Left corner-forward

Players wear a jersey with their team colours and number on the back. Both teams must have different colour jerseys. The goalkeepers’ jerseys must not be similar to the jersey of any other player. Referees normally tog out in black jerseys, socks and togs. Goalkeepers may not be physically challenged whilst inside their own small parallelogram, but players may harass them into playing a bad pass, or block an attempted pass. Teams are allowed a maximum of three substitutes in a game. Players may switch positions on the field of play as much as they wish but this is usually on the instructions of team officials.

Officials for a game comprise of a referee, two linesmen (to indicate when the ball leaves the field of play at the side and to mark ’65” free kicks and 4 umpires (to signal scores, assist the referee in controlling the games, and to assist linesmen in positioning ”65′ frees). A goal is signalled by raising a green flag, placed to the left of the goal. A point is signalled by raising a white flag, placed to the right of goal. A ’45’/’65’ is signalled by the umpire raising his/her outside arm. A ‘square ball’, when a player scores having arrived in the ‘square’ prior to receiving the ball, is signalled by pointing at the small parallelogram.

The Legend of Cuchulainn
Setanta, a nephew of King Conor Mac Neasa of Ulster, was predicted to be destined for greatness, and as he grew older it became evident that this prophecy was to be fulfilled. The boy had gained knowledge and performed feats unusual for one of his age. At the age of five, he decided to join the Boys` Corps at the court of his uncle, King Conor. He set out for his uncle`s court at Emain Macha on foot, taking with him his hurling stick of bronze and a silver sliotar. He shortened many a mile by hurling the sliotar and throwing the hurley stick after it. He would run like the wind after them and catch them before they landed. In this way he soon arrived at Emain Macha. King Conor and the boys of the corps were astonished by his prowess on the hurling field. He could score with ease and when it was his turn to guard the goal, not one shot did he let in.

King Conor was invited to a banquet at the house of Culainn and he asked Setanta to accompany him. Setanta was playing a game of hurling at the time and told his uncle he would go to the banquet after the game. His uncle agreed to this and went on his own to the house of Culainn. When the guests were seated at the feast, Culainn asked the King if all the expected guests had arrived and the King replied that they had, forgetting all about Setanta. Culainn then unchained his magnificent hound to guard the house. Setanta arrived at Culainn`s house and the hound bayed like thunder and immediately sprang at him. Setanta, who had only his hurling stick and sliotar with him, hurled the ball with colossal force at the hound. The ball went into the gaping jaws of the huge animal and down into its throat. The hound was forced back by the pain of the blow. Immediately Setanta grabbed the hound by its legs and smashed its head on the stone courtyard. When Conor heard the hound baying he remembered Setanta and he rushed outside expecting to find him torn to pieces. He was overjoyed to see him unharmed.

Culainn was sorrowful at the loss of his hound which had guarded his home so well. Setanta consoled him and said he would find a young hound and train it to guard Culainn`s house. He volunteered to guard Cullain`s house and property himself until a worthy successor to the slain hound was found. King Conor decreed this to be fair. Thus, Setanta became known as Cuchulainn – the hound of Culainn.