History of the Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is an amateur sporting organisation
founded by Michael Cusack and Maurice Davin to preserve and cultivate the
national games. When it was founded in 1884, it had Davin as it's first
president. Dr. T. W. Croke, (Archbishop of Cashel) became the first patron
of the Association, and Croke Park in Dublin (the Association Headquarters)
is named in his honour.
The Association was nationalist in outlook and members were banned from
playing non-Gaelic games. The Association also banned members of British
Crown Forces from membership, and this is a source of great controversy in
modern-day Ireland. Foreign games are also banned from GAA stadiums.
The GAA is the largest sporting organisation in Ireland, boasting 2,800
clubs comprising of 182,000 footballers and 97,000 hurlers. Membership of
the GAA exceeds 800,000 at home and abroad ensuring its role as a powerful
national movement with an important social and cultural influence in Irish
Gaelic football is played by approximately 250,000 men and women, making it
the most popular sport in Ireland. The first record of Gaelic football is in
the Statutes of Galway (1527) which allowed the playing of football but
banned hurling. The earliest reported match took place at Slane, Co. Meath
in 1712 when Meath played their neighbours, Louth.
Capacity crowds attend the All-Ireland Football Final at Croke Park every
September (the third Sunday of September). The winners of the Senior Final
receive the Sam Maguire Cup. Since the first All-Ireland Senior football
final in 1887, Kerry have been the most successful team, winning 30 times.
Only Kerry (twice) and Wexford have won in four successive years. In the
past four years, an Ulster team (Down, Donegal, Derry, Down) has won the Sam
Maguire Cup, the first time a province has retained the championship for
more than two consecutive years.
- The highest attendance ever recorded at an All-Ireland Senior Football
Final was 90,556 at the 1961 Down vs Offaly final.
Following the introduction of seating to the Cusack stand in 1966, the
largest crowd recorded since has been reduced to 73,588. When
the current development to Croke Park is finished the capacity will be
- The highest number of appearances in the All-Ireland Senior Football
final is 10. This has been achieved by Paudie O'Shea, Pat Spillane and
Denis 'Ogie' Moran. They were winners on no less than eight occasions.
- The highest individual score in the modern 70-minute game was
recorded by Jimmy Keaveney (Dublin) in the 1977 Final against Armagh where he
scored two goals and six points (12 points), and by Mike Sheehy (Kerry) in the
1979 Final against Dublin where he also recorded 2-6.
Hurling is the oldest of Irish sports and dates from pre-Christian times. No
standardised rules existed until the GAA was formed in 1884. It is the third
most popular sport in Ireland (soccer is 2nd) and is played by approximately
100,000 Irish people. The women's equivalent of hurling is called camogie and
is played according to the same basic rules, but with a smaller pitch and
smaller sticks. There are 50,000 camogie players in Ireland.
Hurling is one of the fastest field games in the world, and is played with
an ash stick between 30 and 37 inches in length, with a broad end. The stick
is used to hit and carry the sliotar which is a small ball weighing
Since the first Senior Hurling Final in 1887, Cork have won the most times
with 27 victories. The provinces of Leinster and Munster dominate the
modern game - out of all of Connaught and Ulster, only Galway have managed
to win the Hurling championship.
- Highest individual score in a Senior Hurling Final: Nicky English
of Tipperary scored 18 points (2-12) in the 1989 final against Antrim.
- Most appearances in a Senior Hurling Final: Christy Ring of Cork
(1941-1954) and John Doyle of Tipperary (1949-1965) each appeared in 10 finals,
winning 8 of them.
- Most All-Ireland Winners medals: Noel Skehan of Kilkenny won 9
medals between 1963 and 1983.
- Largest attendance at a Senior Hurling Final: When Cork beat
Wexford in 1954, they did so in front of 84,856 fans.
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