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The GAA: History of Gaelic Football

    The GAA

    In response to the creation of the Football Association and Rugby Football Union by the English, Ireland founded the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded in 1884. The mission of the GAA was to develop and promote sports of Irish origin.

    The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association – or in Irish Gaelic: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael), also worked to restore the Tailteann Games, a sort of Olympic games disputed in ancient times in Ireland. The organization was established to establish and protect the rules of the various Gaelic sports (football, hurling, camogie, etc). As a result, the GAA is currently a veritable cultural icon in Ireland where GAA Gaelic games are the most popular sports being played.

    Foundation & History

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    Michael Cusack

    Michael Cusack (Irish: Mícheál Ó Cíosóig; 20 September 1847 – 27 November 1906) was an Irish teacher and founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

    The GAA put in place competitions, most notably the prestigious All Ireland Championships over the entire Irish island even beyond the political boundaries between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. The GAA created a championship re-grouping all Irish counties into a national competition culminating in the final match now played at the mythical Croke Park in Dublin with up to 80 000 spectators on hand.

    Croke park

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    Croke Park, Gaelic games stadium located in Dublin, Ireland

    Croke Park is a historic site where each year the final matches of the All-Ireland competitions have been held since 1895. Originally called Jones Road Sportground, the le stadium became the property of the GAA in 1913 at which time the grounds were given their current name in honor of the archbishop Thomas Croke, one of the first presidents of the GAA. Croke Park is most notably famous for being the site of the tragic Blood Sunday of 1920, where British soldiers interrupted a game in progress and opened fire on the spectators killing 13 spectators and one player. The player killed was Micheal Hogan, the captain of the club from Tipperary, is remembered to this day with a section of the stands “Hogan’s Stand” is named in his honor.

    In 2004 following extensive renovations, Croke Park with its 82 300 places, became the 3rd largest sporting venue in Europe. While the GAA had always reserved the use of Croke Park only for Gaelic games, during the renovations performed at the rugby stadium of Landsdown Road, it permitted the park to be used by the Irish national rugby team for the 6 Nations Tournament from 2007 to 2010 and for the World Cup of a rugby match between France and Ireland in 2010.

    Since the 1970’s the stadium has also been used to host concerts and even a boxing match between Mohamed Ali and Al Blue Lewis in 1972. The stadium also contains a significant amount of conference rooms where the annual GAA congress takes place.

    Other Grounds

    • Fitzgerald Stadium, in Killarney, a capacity of 43,180
    • MacHale Park in Castlebar, the largest stadium in Connacht (and in the northern half of the country), a capacity of 42,000
    • St Tiernach’s Park in Clones, County Monaghan, hosts most Ulster finals, a capacity of 36,000
    • Kingspan Breffni Park, in Cavan Town, County Cavan, which hosted International rules football series games in 2013, a capacity of 32,000
    • Casement Park, in Belfast, a capacity of 32,600
    • Nowlan Park, in Kilkenny, a capacity of 27,800
    • O’Moore Park, in Portlaoise, County Laois, a capacity of 27,000
    • Healy Park, in Omagh, County Tyrone, a capacity of 26,500
    • Pearse Stadium in Galway, which has hosted International rules football series games, a capacity of 26,197

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