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.
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.
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.
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.
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.