What is Gaelic Football?

Gaelic Football – “the all-round game” of hand, foot and round ball skills – has been played across Australia and NZ for many decades by Irish immigrants, visa workers and backpackers keen to play the national sport of their youth.

It 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 nineteenth 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.

Gaelic football is the most popular sport of Ireland in both participation and spectator numbers. It is the other parent game along with Aussie Rules to the International Rules competition played between Ireland and the Australian Football League.

Even better than International Rules, Gaelic football is a fast free flowing open field game. Teams line out in similar positions to Aussie Rules – full forward, half forward, midfield, halfback and fullback lines, but with the addition of a goalkeeper similar to soccer and no ruck division. Goalposts resemble those of Rugby but with a net under the cross bar. A goal into the net is worth 3 points; a shot over the bar and between the posts is worth 1 point. There is no body tackling though the men’s version permits shoulder to shoulder contact with the ball carrier. The ball must be passed by foot or hand-pass similar to Aussie Rules. In men’s football the ball also must be taken by hands in the air, on the full or on the bounce or flicked into the hands by foot from the ground, thus soccer skills are particularly useful.



CEAD MILE FAILTE – “A hundred thousand welcomes” awaits you.


Training grounds

Bert St Clair Oval, 247 Graceville Avenue, Graceville, 4075

Playing grounds

318 Bowhill Rd, Willawong