- GAA redirects here. For the ice hockey statistic, see Goals against average.
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (Irish: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael) is an organisation which is mostly focussed on promoting Irish sports, such as hurling and camogie, Gaelic football and handball, and rounders. The organisation also promotes Irish music and dance, and the Irish language as an integral part of its objectives. The organisation is largely based, both functionally and in terms of competition, on the traditional counties of Ireland.
Foundation of the GAA
The man directly involved in the founding of the GAA was a Clareman, Michael Cusack. Born in 1847 Cusack went on to pursue a career as a teacher in Blackrock College. In 1877 he set up his own cramming school, the Civil Service Academy, to prepare students for examinations into the British Civil Service. "Cusack's Academy" as it was known and its pupils did extremely well with the result that the numbers attending it soared. Pupils at the Academy were encouraged to get involved in all forms of physical exercise and, as a language enthusiast, Cusack was troubled by falling standards in specifically Irish games. To remedy this situation and to re-establish hurling as the national pastime, Cusack set up the GAA on the first of November 1884 in Hayes's Hotel, Thurles.
Within a few weeks of the foundation of the association, Archbishop Thomas Croke of Cashel gave it his approval and became its first patron. Its other patrons included both Michael Davitt and Charles Parnell. Cusack was a difficult man to get along with but in the first few months of the organisation he proved to be an excellent organiser. Cusack did not, however continue to run the association for long after its foundation. Within eighteen months he was obliged to resign as a result of his failure to submit accounts for auditing. Croke introduced a new rule which forbade members of the GAA from playing "foreign and fantastic games" such as tennis, polo, and croquet.
Aims of the GAA
- 1. To prevent the decline of native pastimes.
- 2. To open athletics to all social classes.
- 3. To aid in the establishment of hurling and football club which would organise matches between counties.
The GAA in the Twentieth Century
Up to the turn of the century most of the members were farm labourers, small farmers, barmen or shop assistants. But from 1900 onwards a new type of person — those who were now being influenced by the Gaelic League (1893) — joined the movement. They tended to be clerks, school teachers or civil servants. In 1922 it passed over the job of promoting athletics to the National Athletic and Cycling Association.
The Achievements of the GAA
- 1. The ancient game of hurling was saved from extinction and both it and Gaelic football were standardised.
- 2. As a result of the GAA native games were taken out of the hands of the landlords and police and passed to the nationalists.
- 3. A spirit of local patriotism was awakened in Ireland.
- 4. In its democratic constitution it helped prepare the country for self-government.
- 5. The GAA played an important part in the forging of a national identity in the early years of the twentieth century.
Sectarianism and the GAA
The GAA was often accused of being a sectarian organisation in Northern Irish society. It is said that its establishment was based on political nationalism and republicanism and the Catholic Church. Initially, members were prohibited from playing "foreign" sports, and to this day, such sports are officially barred from using GAA grounds. In practice, however, the ban is applied only to soccer and rugby. Since the 1960s, GAA has allowed its flagship stadium, Croke Park, to be used for International rules football — a compromise between Gaelic football and Australian rules — in matches between Ireland and Australia. And in the 1980s, Croke Park was the venue for an American football game between Notre Dame and Navy.
A ban (written in Rule 21) on members of the British security forces from playing Gaelic games was lifted on 17 November 2001 after the creation of the new Police Service of Northern Ireland and after much lobbying from the more progressive majority in the association. Its perceived nationalism made it and its members particular targets for Loyalist paramilitaries during the Troubles.
The GAA Today
The GAA is the largest amateur sports association in Ireland. The GAA controls more than 3,000 member clubs and controls about 500 grounds throughout Ireland.
Important Dates of the GAA
- 1884 - the GAA is founded on November 1 in Hayes' Hotel in Thurles, Tipperary
- 1886 - the Artane Boys Band gives its first GAA public performance on June 14 of this year
- 1887 - Tipperary and Limerick win the first All-Ireland Hurling and Football Finals respectively
- 1892 - goals are made equal to five points and teams are reduced fro 21 to 17-a-side.
- 1896 - the value of a goal is reduced from 5 points to 3 points
- 1912 - the junior championships are introduced at All-Ireland level
- 1913 - the Jones Road Ground, Dublin, is purchased by the GAA and renamed Croke Memorial Park.
- 1920 - twelve spectators and a player, Michael Hogan, are killed in Croke Park during a raid by Black and Tans.
- 1926 - the first radio broadcast of a GAA match took place when Galway played Kilkenny
- 1931 - the name Cumann Lúthchleas Gael is adopted
- 1935 - the GAA enters its second half century: a crowd of 50,000 attend the All-Ireland Finals
- 1938 - Micheál O Hehir commentates on fis first GAA match
- 1939 - the Cork V. Kilkenny hurling match is remembered as the "thunder & lightning final" as the climax is played in a storm
- 1947 - the Cavan V. Kerry All-Ireland Football Final is played in the Polo Grounds, New York.
- 1954 - a record 84,856 attend Croke Park when Cork play Wexford in the hurling final
- 1959 - 75th Anniversary of the GAA: the first cantilevered New Hogan Stand is opened at Croke Park
- 1961 - a record 90,556 attend the Down V. Offaly All-Ireland Football Final at Croke Park
- 1962 - the first GAA match is broadcast live on Telefís Éireann (now RTÉ)
- 1976 - Páirc Uí Chaoimh is opened in Cork City
- 1984 - Centenary year of the GAA: the All-Ireland Hurling Final between Cork & Offaly is played in Thurles
- 1993 - a grand plan to completely re-construct Croke Park was launched
- 1996 - the new Cusack Stand was opened
- 2002 - the redeveloped Cusack, Canal End and Hogan Stands were officially opened
Major GAA stadia:
- All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
- All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
- Sport in Ireland