It is one of the most spectacular sports, although few in continental Europe have heard of it. The rules of the sport allow for kicking, kicking and even kicking the ball with the hand. These are by no means the only peculiarities of Gaelic soccer, which is one of Ireland’s national sports.
If anyone has ever wondered what it would be like to combine soccer with basketball, rugby and volleyball, they should at least once in their life go and watch a game of Gaelic soccer. This specific sport is all about scoring more points than your opponent through the use of elements of play characteristic of all four of these sports. A round ball with a circumference of about 65cm can be either dug in or knocked into the opponent’s goal by hand, for which 3 points are awarded. Another acceptable way to score points is to throw or kick the ball over the crossbar located 2.5 meters above the goal – then the team scores one point.
There are many more similarities with classic soccer. The matches take place on rectangular grass pitches whose dimensions are similar to those of a football pitch. The teams consist of goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers arranged according to formations. The penalties are also identical – the referees can show a player a yellow or a red card. Only serious offences such as hitting (or attempting to hit) with the arm, elbow, hand, knee or head, kicking or spitting at an opponent, injuring a player, or verbally abusing referees or other officials will result in an exclusion from the game. The main difference is that there are a maximum of 30 players on the pitch at any one time (15 per team), rather than 22 as in soccer. The number of substitutes can vary slightly. Basketball takes its scoring, scrummaging and referee’s throws from basketball, the number of players and the H-shaped goal from rugby, and the ability to hit the ball with the hand from volleyball.
Gaelic soccer has always been most popular in the British Isles. It is one of the sports which can be traced back to the Caid, the traditional team games played in Ireland since the Middle Ages. To this day, the finals of the most prestigious Gaelic competition (All-Ireland Senior Championship) attract 80 thousand fans to Croke Park stadium in Dublin. Much fewer spectators follow the league games in North America or Australia – the majority of the audience there is mostly Irish diaspora.
Despite the poor reputation of the sport in Poland there is a Gaelic soccer club in Poland. Cumann Warszawa has been active for 11 years organising GAA training and tournaments for seniors, women and juniors. Classes take place in Warszawianka club.
The premiere Irish soccer tournament took place in Poland only two years ago on the grounds of the Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw (it was immediately classified to the Central and Eastern European Championships – ed.), although before that there had already been an official 70-minute meeting at the Skra stadium in Warsaw, where Cumann confronted the English Bristol Rovers. Since then, unfortunately, the status of Peil Ghaelach has not changed significantly – it is still considered a niche sport in many countries.
Featured photo: Wikipedia