Gaelic games are sports played in Ireland under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). Gaelic football and hurling are the two main games. Other games organised by the GAA include Gaelic handball and rounders.
Women's versions of hurling and football are also played: camogie, organised by the Camogie Association of Ireland, and ladies' Gaelic football, organised by the Ladies' Gaelic Football Association. While women's versions are not organised by the GAA, they are closely associated with it.
Today, Gaelic games are the most popular games in Ireland in terms of supporter attendances at senior games. Despite an economic downturn, attendances in 2009 were up 11% on 2008.
Gaelic football is played by teams of 15 on a rectangular grass pitch with H-shaped goals at each end. The primary object is to score by driving the ball through the goals, which is known as a goal (worth 3 points), or by kicking the ball over the bar, which is known as a point (worth 1 point). The team with the highest point score at the end of the match wins. The female version of the game is known as ladies' Gaelic football and is similar to the men's game with a few minor rule changes.
Hurling is a stick and ball game played by teams of 15 on a rectangular grass pitch with H-shaped goals at each end. The primary object is to score by driving the ball through the goals or putting the ball over the bar and thereby scoring a point. Three points is the equivalent of a goal. The team with the highest score at the end of the match wins. It is over three thousand years old, and is said to be the world's fastest field game, combining skills from lacrosse, field hockey, and baseball in a hard-hitting, highly skilled game. The female version of the game is known as camogie and is very similar to hurling with a few minor rule changes. It was founded in 2009.
Gaelic handball is a game in which two players use their hands to return a ball against a wall. The game is similar to American handball. There are three codes of handball; 60x30, 40x20 and One Wall. One Wall handball is the most popular international version of handball with it being played in over 30 countries. It is hoped that this version of handball will soon become an Olympic sport. The sport of handball is governed by GAA Handball in Ireland.
Rounders is a bat and ball game which is played in Ireland; a similar version is played in England. Rounders is the least popular of the GAA Gaelic games and is organised by a subdivision of the GAA known as the Rounders Council of Ireland. It is similar to softball.
Other Gaelic games
Other Gaelic games such as Gaelic athletics have nearly or completely died out. When founded the GAA organised a number of Gaelic athletics competitions but passed the responsibility to the National Athletic and Cycling Association in 1922. Tailteann Games with Gaelic athletics were held until 1932.