What We Play: Gaelic Football & Camogie
Gaelic games (Irish: Cluichí Gaelacha) are a set of sports played worldwide, though they are particularly popular in Ireland, where they originated. They include Gaelic Football and Camogie. See below for an overview of both games.
Gaelic Football is a distinctly Irish field invasion game played with a round football which can be caught, kicked and hand passed.
Similar sports skills: soccer, football, volleyball, basketball
The ball used in Gaelic Football is round, slightly smaller than a soccer ball.
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 be either 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 contest for the ball by playing it with the hand or by shoulder charging an opponent side-to-side.
To score, you put the ball over the crossbar by foot or fist for one point or under the crossbar and into the net by foot or the hand / fist in certain circumstances for a goal, the latter being the equivalent of three points.
A goal is signaled by raising a green flag, placed to the left of the goal. A point is signaled by raising a white flag, placed to the right of goal.
Officials for a game comprise of a referee, two linesmen (to indicate when the ball leaves the field of play at the side and to mark ’45’ free kicks and four umpires (to signal scores, assist the referee in controlling the games, and to assist linesmen in positioning ’45’ frees).
Watch the Sport
Camogie (ka-moe-gi) is an Irish team sport sport played with a wooden stick (hurley) and a small ball (a Sliotar). It is very similar to the men’s version, hurling, but has a few key differences, mostly relating to scoring and tackling.
It shares a number of features with Gaelic football, such as the field and goals, number of players, and much terminology.
It is typically played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch, although here in North America we play smaller sized games to suit the smaller sports facilities available.
Similar sports skills: field hockey, lacrosse, baseball
Positions in Camogie are similar to that in other team games codes, and comprise one goalkeeper, six defenders, two midfielders, and six forwards, with a variable number of substitutes. These numbers will change depending on the size of the field available.
How to Play
Unlike in other games, where players from each team line up in their own half, Camogie players start a game positioned on either side of the half, and pair themselves with an opposing team’s player.
The game begins with the Sliotar being thrown in between all four midfielders in the centre. Players will attempt to play the ball along the ground in either direction, and towards a teammate.
The player must use their Hurley to raise the ball of the ground and into their hands, they are not permitted to pick the ball up off the ground.
Players are given only four seconds or four steps to advance the ball.
After four steps, the player must either play the ball by striking the ball with their Hurley, or slapped with an open hand (the hand pass), or kicking it. Alternatively they can opt to bounce or balance the sliotar on the end of the Hurley and may move with the ball like this for as long as they like.
- However – the player may only handle the ball twice with it is in their possession. Once the player has taken the ball into their hand a second time, they must play the ball without handling it again.
- the “block”, where one player attempts to smother an opposing player’s strike by trapping the ball between their hurley and the opponent’s swinging hurl
- the “hook”, where a player approaches another player from a rear angle and attempts to catch the opponent’s hurley with their own at the top of the swing
- Side-to-side charges are forbidden
In the game, two types of scores are possible: points and goals.
- A point is awarded for striking or hand-passing the ball over the crossbar, signalled by the umpire raising a white flag.
- A goal is awarded for striking or hand-passing the ball under the crossbar into the net, signalled by the umpire raising a green flag.
Officials for a game comprise of a referee, two linesmen (to indicate when the ball leaves the field of play at the side and to mark ’65’ free kicks and four umpires (to signal scores, assist the referee in controlling the games, and to assist linesmen in positioning ’65’ frees).