Gaelic Football can be said to be a mixture of soccer, rugby and basketball, although it predates all of those games. It is a field game, which has evolved along similar lines as Australian Rules Football.
The Ball: Gaelic Football is played with a round ball, slightly smaller, and heavier than a soccer ball.
The Field: The playing area is a rectangular field, approximately 137 meters long, and 82 meters wide.
Goalposts: The goalposts are the same basic shape as rugby goalposts, but the crossbar is lower than in rugby and it has netting similar to a soccer net.
Scoring: There are two methods for scoring:
- A Point: When the ball goes over the crossbar and between the uprights it is worth one (1) point. This is accomplished by either kicking or hand-passing.
- A Goal: When the ball is put under the crossbar and between the uprights, it is worth three (3) points. This can be accomplished:
- a) When the ball is in the attackers possession and control, he may score a goal by kicking the ball.
- b) Or, if the ball is in the air, and in nobody’s possession, the attacker may punch it directly into the net, much like a spike in volleyball.
- When a score is given to the attacking team, the kickout is taken from the 21-yard line.
- The ball 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 either be 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.
- Players may not lift the ball directly from the ground. However, in ladies’ Gaelic football, the ball may be picked up directly. The toe may be used to lift the ball from the ground, into the hands.
- If a player illegally lifts the ball from the ground, the opposing team regains possession, and a free is taken from the point where the foul occurred.
- The ball may be kicked from the ground at any time.
- The ball may also be kicked from the hand.
- Rule infractions are also punished by a free-kick, in which a player may kick the ball from the ground, or from his hand, unimpeded by an opponent.
- If a personal foul to an attacking player is committed within his opponents’ large parallelogram, a penalty to the attacking team is awarded.
- A special free called a ’45’, in Gaelic football, is awarded to an attacking team if a defender plays the ball last before it crosses the defenders’ end line. This free is so called because it is taken from the defenders’ 45 metre line. This free must be taken from the ground. It is taken perpendicular to where the ball crossed the line.
- The player in possession may elect to ‘hand-pass’ the ball to a teammate, or over the crossbar, especially in confined spaces when a kick could be blocked.
- The hand-pass is executed by holding the ball in one hand and cleanly striking it with the other.
- The referee must see a clear striking motion, as throwing the ball (allowed in rugby) is not allowed and is punishable with a free kick to the opposition.
A solo is one of the most difficult skills in Gaelic Football, especially when performed at speed. It is executed by dropping the ball from the hand to the foot, and then flicking it with the foot back up to the hand. This move is completed while running.
- A player in possession may carry the ball a maximum of four steps before either:
- a) bouncing the ball on the ground back to himself
- b) kicking the ball to himself (solo)
- The player may not take more than one bounce consecutively while running
- He must at least alternate it with a solo every other four steps, although there is no limit to the amount of consecutive solos a player may take.
- Tackling in Gaelic Football is confined to tackling the ball.
- It is illegal to trip, punch, hold, drag, pull or rugby tackle another player.
- It is legal, however, to make full body contact as long as it is a clear attempt to win the ball.
- The main methods of trying to dispossess a player are as follows
- a) Blocking the kick: A defender may attempt to block the ball as it leaves the attacker’s foot, as shown in the picture above. If the ball is blocked it is considered ‘loose’ and players may compete for it again.
- b) Knocking the ball: The defender may try to knock the ball out of the attacker’s grasp by hitting it with one of his hands. It is important to play the ball in this case, as striking the player can result in a free-kick and also a yellow or red card.
- c) Jostling the opponent: A player may jostle, or shoulder-to-shoulder charge, an opponent when racing to win a loose ball, or when trying to knock an opponent off the ball