The 6 most popular sports in Ireland (2021)  

Most popular sports in Ireland

With Euro 2020 happening, it seems like everyone is only concentrating on soccer. Sadly, Ireland has not qualified. That’s why we here at Babylon have decided to concentrate on other popular sports in Ireland.

What do Irish people like playing? How do traditional Irish sports like Gaelic football and hurling work? And who are the famous people we need to know?

Find all that and more by reading the following list of the six most popular sports in Ireland. 

1.      Football (Soccer)

Football

Although Ireland didn’t qualify for Euro 2020, football (also called soccer) has always been high up on the list of sports Irish people love. Approximately 5% of people over the age of 15 are playing soccer.

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world with 3.5 Billion people playing it. If you want to be on the ball when it comes to Irish soccer, you should know about Roy Keane. Roy is the Irish soccer manager and the first name that pops up when you type the sport into Google. Roy was a very successful soccer player and got most of his success while he was playing for Manchester United.

If you like the idea of joining a football club, here are a few:

Leinster: 

Munster

Ulster: 

Connaught: 

2.      Gaelic football 

Gaelic Football

I’d never heard of Gaelic football before I came to Ireland. So, here is a little description for people that feel the same.

Gaelic football is a traditional Irish sport and it is very popular. The aim is to punch or kick the football into the other team’s goal, between two posts above the goal or over a crossbar. The ball is a bit smaller than a soccer ball. 

Most children will have played the sport in some way. However, if you’re not Irish, the possibility of you having heard of it is rather small. The island of Ireland is almost the only country the sport is played in. Small clubs of Gaelic football only exist in the UK, North America, and Australia.

Gary Connaughton has been called “one of Westmeath’s greatest Gaelic players” and is, therefore, a name you don’t want to miss when talking about Gaelic football.

Here are some Gaelic football clubs to check out for everyone interested:

Leinster: 

Munster: 

Ulster: 

Connaught: 

3.      Hurling & camogie (traditional Irish sport)

To start, we have to set something straight. Hurling and camogie are the same sport. The difference is that hurling is played by men and camogie is played by women. To make it simpler, I will just refer to the sport as hurling. But everything said is equally correct for camogie.

Hurling is over 3000 years old, with its origin in Ireland. The game has gained popularity internationally and is played worldwide today.

It is a fast-paced game with two teams of 15 players. The players have wooden hurls and run across the field, trying to get a baseball-sized ball into a net or over a crossbar. Players have to be fast, brave, and not mind the chance of being hit with someone’s hurl. Due to the risk of injury, everyone wears a helmet to protect their head from hits.

One person to know is Darren Gleeson. He played as the goalkeeper for ten seasons in the Tipperary senior hurling team. Today, Darren is the manager of the same hurling team.

If you are interested in learning more about hurling and camogie, have a look at these clubs:

Leinster: 

Munster: 

Ulster: 

Connaught: 

4.       Golf

Golf

Some people find golf boring, others love it. One thing I’ve noticed is that Irish people love it. I haven’t spoken as much about golf in my entire life as I have in the two years that I’ve been living in Ireland. There are a lot of golf courses and you will even find a hole for your golf ball in the smallest of towns.

Rory McIlroy is the name you want to know if you are interested in Golf. He has four majors in golf and plays a big role when it comes to promoting the sport to younger people.

Here are some seriously good looking golf courses for everyone who would like to play a round:

Leinster: 

Munster: 

Ulster: 

Connaught: 

5.       Equestrian/horse riding

Equestrian

Horse riding is becoming more and more popular every year. Horse riding includes a wide range of different disciplines: dressage, showjumping, English, and many more. Click here to see a longer, more detailed list of all horse riding disciplines. 

Horse riding is popular for people of all ages. In children’s classes, you will mainly see girls on horses. However, the most successful riders are often male. 

A person of importance in horse riding is Cian O’Connor. He won bronze in the London Olympics and, thereby, increased the popularity of the sport in Ireland.  

There are a lot of horse riding schools throughout the country. People of all ages can join horse riding classes, from young children to adults.

Here are some horse riding schools that offer classes:

Leinster: 

Munster: 

Ulster: 

Connaught: 

6.      Rugby

Rugby

If you’re not into sports, rugby may look like American football to you. However, it is not the same. The biggest difference between the two is how the points are made.

Now, on to rugby and how it works. The most important rule in rugby is that you never pass the ball forward to a teammate. If you want to throw the ball to someone else, you have to pass it to someone behind or beside you. 

The objection is to get the ball through the other team’s goal, which is a line. Players are allowed to tackle each other. This means, similar to American football, you are allowed to “run” (in certain ways) into each other to prevent the other team from reaching your goal.

In Ireland, rugby is quite popular and the Irish rugby team participates in the annual six-nation championship as well as the Rugby World Cup.

Brian O’Driscoll is likely to be mentioned in an Irish rugby conversation. He is a former Irish rugby player as well as captain for the British & Irish Lions from 2013 until 2012.

If you are interested in rugby, here are a few clubs you can join:

Leinster: 

Munster: 

Ulster:

Connaught:  

 

This is it. The 6 most popular sports in Ireland are now fully available to you.

Do you do any sports? If not, do you want to join any?

Let us know in the comments.

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About the author

Christine Brungard

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