The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded on November 1st 1884, by a group of spirited Irishmen who had the foresight to realise the importance of establishing a national organisation to revive and nurture traditional, indigenous pastimes.
Until that time all that was Irish was being steadily eroded by emigration, desperate poverty and outside influences. Within six months of that famous first meeting, clubs began to spring up all over Ireland and people began to play the games of Hurling and Gaelic Football and take part in Athletic events with pride. From 1925 the GAA handed over the organisation of Athletics to a separate organisation.
The Irish who emigrated brought their national games with them and both regional and club units are now well established in America, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada, mainland Europe and in many other parts of the world where the large Irish diaspora are located.
The GAA has over 2,500 clubs in Ireland alone. The playing of Gaelic Games is based on the GAA Club, and each of the 32 Counties in Ireland have their own Club competitions, culminating in County Winners in championship and league. Club units outside of Ireland have their own league and championship competitions with the format dictated by the number of players and clubs available.
Clubs are generally based in a specific geographic area (usually a parish), and draw their players from that area. In certain cases, e.g. universities, the club will represent an organisation or institution and will draw their players from the members of that organisation.
Clubs will field one or more teams at various levels, and will play in their county's leagues, cups and championships. Most clubs will have both hurling and football teams, but some clubs will concentrate exclusively on one or other of the two Gaelic Games.
The winner of the County Championship will go forward to represent that county in the Provincial Club championship, and should they win that, to the latter stages of the All-Ireland Club Championship, the finals of which are played in Croke Park on St Patrick's Day (17th March). Inter-county teams are selected from the best players from the clubs in every county.
The county is a geographical region in Ireland, and each of the thirty-two counties in Ireland organises it's own GAA affairs through a County Board. Counties have a number of Divisional or Juvenile Boards to organise competitions at district and youth levels.
The County Board (and / or subsidiary boards) will organise competitions for the clubs within its jurisdiction. They are also responsible for the organisation of teams to play at inter-county level, at all age groups from Under-10 to Senior.
The county teams play in their respective Provincial Championships at all grades, and if successful will go on the play in the All-Ireland series. A current experiment in hurling allows the defeated senior and minor hurling finalists in Leinster and Munster to re-enter the championship at the All-Ireland Quarter-Final stages.
The Provincial Councils are the organisations responsible for the arrangement of GAA matters within their Province. They organise the Provincial Championships for clubs and counties in both hurling and football, and look after organisational and disciplinary matters in their jurisdiction.
Inter-Provincial teams in hurling and football are selected from the best players from the counties in every Province and compete for the annual Railway Cup Hurling and Football competitions.
The National Organisation (GAA) is run by Central Council (Árd Comhairle), with the Management Committee (Coiste Bainistí) controlling day-to-day affairs. They run the All-Ireland series of the club and county championships, and look after the Railway Cup competition. It is at this level that rule changes and amendments to GAA structures are implemented, and major changes to GAA affairs will be ratified by these bodies.
Visit the offical GAA website at:
Last Updated: March 27, 2012