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The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

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The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

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The Sports of The Emerald Isle

Taken from Unsplash by Alejandro Luengo

We all know about Ireland, the potato growing, river dancing, car exploding country that we all know and love. Today I want to delve into Ireland’s favourite sport and see what this country of 5 million has to offer.


It’s no surprise that Ireland is a huge fan of Rugby, with a long culture and list of rugby greats such as Brian O’ Driscoll and Paul O’Donell it is safe to see why Rugby is so popular over there. Recently however, Irish rugby has experienced a golden age seeing them beat rugby juggernauts in the form of South Africa in late 2022 19-16, and even beating the All Blacks 32-22. Ireland heading into the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France is seen as the No 1 seed and all eyes are on them to see whether they will deliver big for their fans back home. Back in Ireland, the premier league is the AIL (All Ireland League) which sees over 50 teams battle it out as the best team in Ireland, Shannon Rugby Club is the league’s most successful, with over 9 championship wins in 10 appearances since the league’s foundation in 1990.

GAA (Gaelic Football)

Gaelic football is a traditional sport played internationally, however, the largest fanbase in the world exists in Ireland. The rule of the sport is very similar to that of AFL where teams using handpasses and kicks attempt to score on the other side of the field by kicking the soccer-like ball into a goal. The goal is separated into a net goal which is protected by a goalkeeper like a soccer goal which when kicked through is worth 6 points, as well as an upright which is like an NRL upright. Kicking the ball into that goal gives 2 points. The National Football League is Ireland’s premier Gaelic football league. Kerry has remained as the country’s top team with over 23 victories since the league’s conception in 1923. In 1964 the international rules game was formed, where Ireland and Australia would face off in an International Gaelic match. At the moment there have been 20 overall tests over the 59-year period in that time each team has 10 tests each with Australia winning the most recent one in 2017 at Adelaide Oval.


Hurling is another sport residing in Ireland and is played by using a wooden stick known as a hurler to hit a wooden croquet between two posts, the sport is famous in Ireland for its physicality and violence as games typically involve huge blindside hits and blood. The National Hurling League or NHL is Ireland’s premier league where a longstanding battle for supremacy has started between Kilkenny and Tipperary where the two clubs are currently tied on most title wins for the league. In their most recent grand final clash, Tipperary were able to edge out Kilkenny to secure a title and firmly assert themselves as the most dominant team heading into 2020 and a new decade of hurling.

As such Irish sports have a long and unique history with some of their most notable sports being a beautiful mixture of calculative set play and brute force which has allowed these sports to shine in the eyes of the Irish people.

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Archie H (Year 12)
Archie H (Year 12), Chief Contributor

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