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Top 5 Favourite Sports Enjoyed and Played in Ireland

Two men playing hurling
Two men playing hurling
Source: Experience Gaelic Games

Top 5 Favourite & Legendary Sports In Ireland

The beautiful green isle is known for many legendary things, from Guinness to Gaelic history. However, sports and athleticism are also a substantial part of Ireland’s culture. Irish society loves sports and celebrates many games unique to the island. While you’re enjoying the multiple casino games offered by Spin Palace, take your time to read about Ireland and discover what they love to play.

Gaelic Football and Hurling

Both sports native to Ireland, Gaelic football and hurling are the most popular sports on the Emerald Isle. Both traditional sports are also controlled by the GGA, which is the Gaelic Athletic Association. Arguably the more popular of the two, Gaelic football involves players using both their hands and feet to get a football in the back of a net or kicked over a bar. This last play is like a field goal in American football, although the game in general is very similar to soccer. The main twist is that the players can pick up the ball and run with it.

Hurling is very exciting, often considered the fastest game in the world. Two teams are equipped with hook-shaped sticks, called hurleys, and team members chase a small ball (similar to a tennis ball) across a field roughly the size of a football pitch. Hurling requires great bravery, skill, and physical fitness to keep up as the ball soars nonstop from one end of the field to the other. Communities take great pride in the sport and have set up teams at all levels, including children’s matches. Counties also gather their best players to complete at the All-Ireland, which takes place for both hurling and Gaelic football in Croke Park, Dublin. The All-Ireland symbolizes the peak of Irish athletic competition and attracts more than 80,000 fans every year.


Rugby players tackling
Source: Pixabay – Pexels

Like many European countries, rugby is extremely important to Irish sporting culture. In some regions, rugby even eclipses the importance of hurling and Gaelic football. Irish love for rugby translates to the international arena as well, putting Irish rugby players consistently among the top global rugby players. Currently, the Irish team is ranked third in the world.

Two teams, fifteen players on each side, can either can either carry, pass, or kick the ball to the end zone to accrue the most points. Specific to Ireland, rugby is divided among the four provinces: Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connacht. If you ever visit Ireland, make sure you see a provincial match. If you travel in the spring, go visit the annual Six Nations Tournament in Dublin for a spirited Irish rugby experience.


Man golfing
Source: Markus Spiske temporausch.com – Pexels

Golf is beloved by both young and old in Ireland. With the influx of prestigious tournaments held in the country, the population of the sport has boomed in recent years. This sport has also boosted the economy in the country, making golf an athletic and cultural staple. Rory McIlroy has also helped the sport’s popularity in Ireland. He has four majors to his name and has hosted the Irish Open, helping to foster awareness and support of golf. Ireland also is the home of Graeme McDowell, who won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He was the first European in 40 years to win the title.

This year the 2019 British Open will also be held in Royal Portrush. Some of the most prominent superstars in golf will attend, along with thousands of visitors, helping to boost the sport further.


Soccer field
Source: Tembela Bohle – Pexels

Played by 250 million players in more than 200 countries, soccer is the world’s most popular sport. In Ireland, it ranks fourth. 4.8% of adults over 15 years of age play soccer. Of those in Ireland who love soccer, some players have gone on to join some of the biggest international leagues, such as the English Premier League teams.

Soccer is split into two governing bodies in Ireland: one for Northern Ireland and one for the Republic of Ireland. Perhaps matching the power and passion of the soccer players are the fans themselves. In 2016, Ireland received a reward from France for the contribution of Irish fans at the European finals. France said that the Irish fans and soccer supporters brought happiness and spirit to France, boosting their morale after facing a difficult year with the terrorist attacks. Truly, if you want to travel to the island and experience Irish sports support at finest, attend a soccer match.

Horse Racing

Source: Mídia – Pexels

Always a traditional favourite, horseracing remains a popular sport in Ireland. Some of the best jockeys in the world have come from Ireland, such as Ap McCoy and Ruby Walsh. The country also is known for its premium race courses and crowd-pleasing events, such as Leopardstown, Punchestown, and the Galway Races.

Racing also permeates each community in a unique way. Boosting economic growth, nearly every town in Ireland has at least once betting shop to get people to watch the races. Racing also brings out the best of high society, such as Lady’s Day at the Galway Races, where women and men show up, looking dapper and eager to win money on the ponies.

The Fascination Football Fans Have for Ties Between English and German Clubs

The Allianz Arena, site of the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final
Source: Richard Bartz, Wikimedia

Although the rivalry between the English and German national football teams can be intense at times, it is often considered to be more of an English obsession. German fans tend to focus on encounters versus Brazil, France and the Netherlands as much, if not more, than those against England. In fact, England has been playing internationals against Germany since 1899 so it is one of the most enduring rivalries in the whole history of international soccer. That said, fans on both sides of the North Sea have enjoyed some fantastic rivalries build up between the leading football clubs in each country. You only have to look at the excitement generated from the last 16 draw in the 2018-19 Champions League to understand just how much fans enjoy these encounters.

On-form Liverpool face a home clash against Bayern Munich, a club with an outstanding record of success in the competition. Likewise, FC Schalke will take on the highly positioned Manchester City. And if that were not enough for those who relish clashes between Premier League clubs and those in the Bundesliga, Tottenham Hotspur will take on Borussia Dortmund. With some justification, the current round of fixtures is being seen by many as a clash between the two leagues, both of which offer high-quality club football week in week out. Yes, fans of the six clubs concerned will take a great deal of interest in how their teams fare but there is also likely to be fascination from football fans across Europe and the globe. Many people who engage in sports betting will be interested in how the Premiership teams get on when pitted against those from the Bundesliga. Not only is there a great deal of fascination with the history of such ties but also in the relative merits of each of the nation’s leagues and – not least – the amount of money clubs in them spend on their players.

The Classic Encounters Between English and German Clubs

One of the things that piques the interest of sports fans when English clubs are drawn against German ones in European competitions is the history of high-quality matches between the two countries. For example, although Bayern Munich may consider their German counterparts Borussia Dortmund to be their main rivals, the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final versus Chelsea produced a truly classic encounter. Perhaps it was because Bayern Munich had just been pipped to the domestic league title by their old foes in Dortmund that the final against the London club took on such significance for the Bavarians. What made the encounter of such significance was the fact that the final was scheduled to be played at Bayern’s home ground. The Bavarian press billed the encounter as Munich’s odds-on chance to redeem their season at home and hyped it as such. When Chelsea restricted the home side to a one all draw after extra time, the pressure on the German team became utterly intense. Chelsea ended up pulling off the narrowest of victories against the odds after penalties.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Source: Tor Alte Kleven, Wikimedia

Another memorable encounter in the Champions League Final came in 1999. This tie also featured Bayern Munich, this time against Manchester United. Contested at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Munich were in the lead for much of the game following an early free-kick which Mario Basler converted. It was only in injury time that one of United’s substitutes, Teddy Sheringham, managed to force an equaliser. Two minutes later, another super-sub Ole Gunnar Solskjær – United’s current caretaker manager – scored the winner, utterly deflating the German team. Interestingly, the final was welcomed widely by English fans, not just those who were avowed supporters of the Manchester club.

However, English clubs have not had it all their own way. Far from it! Famously, the 1975 clash between Bayern Munich and Leeds United ended in victory for the German side. The European Cup Final that year was played in Paris and Leeds fans went on to riot after the two-nil loss, resulting in a ban from European competition which would last two seasons. Borussia Dortmund won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1965-66 season, beating both West Ham and Liverpool on their way to that title.

An Endless Fascination?

Given the many encounters between English and German clubs, you might wonder why these fixtures – as opposed to those between English and French clubs, for instance – attract so much global interest. Perhaps it has something to do with the top-notch soccer that is played but is there more to it than that? The outspoken English manager Brian Clough certainly had a theory. While managing Nottingham Forest, he gained victories over Cologne and Hamburg during his tenure. According to Clough, who was very proud of his record against German clubs, the rivalry stems back to the wartime experiences of older fans. Perhaps this is not so much of an issue for the current generation but one thing is for sure – German and English club fixtures will go on to offer fascinating football for years to come.

England take on Germany in a friendly
Source: Richj1209, Wikimedia