Football with hands? : All you need to know about Gaelic football

Interestingly, the sport has elements of rugby, basketball and volleyball apart from football but yet has its unique identity.

Saurabh GangulyAuthor

Updated - 25 July 2021 06:36 PM


Sport transcends boundaries, sport takes us closer to life and being a reflection of life and living when life suffers, inevitably sport does too. While some sport have become an international business and have found a way to get ardent followers throughout the world, others are centric to a specific region and cater to the imagination of the home audience.

The moment one comes across the word football, countless emotions are experienced by the fans. It is the most followed sport globally. However, it has many variations too and somehow all the related sports have found a way to co-exist together.

One such type of football is the Gaelic football, a popular Irish team sport which is played with a round football but has different rules. Although the ball used in this game is similar to the one used in football or what is known as soccer, it is slightly smaller in size. In addition, while football is a 11 player a team match, Gaelic football is played between two teams of 15 players each.

The sport enjoys great amount of media attention especially in Ireland and is as popular among female players as the male players. Children usually start at a very young age and are encouraged to take up the sport that is played by both hand and the foot. Interestingly, the sport has elements of rugby, basketball and volleyball apart from football but yet has its unique identity.

Rules of the sport

Another stark difference between the two sports is that while in football or soccer the ball cannot be carried in the hand except for pre-defined roles like throw ins or by the goalkeeper, Gaelic football allows the player to carry the ball in hand for a distance of four steps after which it can be kicked or hand-passed. It eventually implies that after every four balls, the ball must be either bounced or "solo-ed"- an act of dropping the ball on the foot and then kicking it back into the hand. However, a player cannot bounce the ball twice in a row. Similarly, while charging the ball, a player is expected to play the ball with the hand or shoulder charge an opponent.


Teams can either score one or three points. For a one point score, the players have to put the ball over the crossbar by foot or fist. In addition, the team can get the ball under the crossbar and into the net by foot, hand or the fist for a goal which will award the team as many as three points. A three pointer is also known as the goal, which is signaled by the green flag, placed to the left of the goal. A point awarded is shown by raising a white flag, placed to the right of the goal.


The match is officiated by a game comprising of a referee, who is assisted in his duties by two linesman who indicate if the ball is in the field of play or not. There are in addition four umpires who signal scores and aid the referee in controlling the matches.


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