Sport is a huge deal in any part of Ireland. From the biggest association football games to the most obscure local sports, every corner of the nation enjoys a game of one kind or another. But some, of course, are the biggest, and it’s usually by quite a long way. there are more than a few metrics you can judge the size of a sport on, but there are some that are the clear winners by any measure.
Today, we’re going to look at the five biggest sports in Ireland that are viewed and enjoyed by the most people, as well as how many of them play these sports.
Let’s get started.
Absolutely the most closely associated with Ireland are the Gaelic sports played there. The most popular of these games is Gaelic football, but you also have hurling, handball and camogie. The variety is incredible.
Hurling and football play 15 to a side, and you score either one point for a shot over the bar or three for a goal. Gaelic football is one of the oldest continuously played, having been popular for at least 135 years in Ireland.
They are all played under the umbrella of the Gaelic Athletic Association, and games are attended by millions each year, and many thousands through betting sites like Betfree. The biggest games are hosted across the country, but particularly in Croke Park, in County Dublin, where the All-Ireland Senior Football final plays each summer. This is without doubt the biggest event in Irish sport!
Of course, it will be no surprise to learn that the beautiful game is also extremely popular in Ireland. They have their own version with Gaelic football, of course, but association football is also incredibly popular in the country.
Globally, football has over 3 billion followers, and anywhere from half a million to a million people watch the biggest Irish football games. As much as 19% of the Irish population would call football their favourite sport, whether that is to play or to spectate.
Where ever you go in Europe, and indeed the world, it’s very difficult to avoid football. It’s everywhere, and beloved by everyone. This is no different in Ireland.
Despite that, though, it is still only the second most popular sport in Ireland. The popularity of Gaelic games are just too big to contend with!
The Irish rugby team has been a big player on the world stage, so it’s not surprising that it’s one of the top five most popular sports in the country. The Irish team won successive Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015.
Around 95,000 people in Ireland actively play rugby on a regular basis, and the big games are contenders with the football games for how many people view them. some of the biggest rugby talent in the world has originated from Ireland, with players like Brian O’Driscoll and others.
While rugby isn’t quite as popular as the biggest Irish sports, it is nonetheless difficult to overstate the cultural impact that the sport has. It is one of the biggest in Ireland.
On the opposite end of the spectrum to rugby in terms of the nature of the game, is golf. It is another of the most popular sports in Ireland, and there are over 300 courses across the Emerald Isle. Again, the country has also produced countless golf stars, from Graeme McDowell to Padraig Harrington who are always a favourite with the Irish bookies.
It’s certainly a slower and more relaxed sport, and along with the U.K., Ireland claims around 43% of all registered golfers. It is clearly one of the most popular sports to play and watch in Ireland.
Athletics includes a number of different sports, like running—cross-country, mountain running, and long distance—as well as other slower events like race-walking.
It is popular from school age Irish to the elite athletes that the nation has produced. There are many big event marathons each year in the country, like the Belfast and Dublin marathons. You also have marathons out in the counties like in Galway and the Wild Atlantic Ultra in Mayo.
The Irish have had a lot of success at the Olympics, and taken home multiple medals in the category. Again, to watch and to play, athletics are one of the most popular sports in Ireland.
One thing is for sure, then: if you enjoy sports, you will feel at home in Ireland. Whatever your particular interest, you will find a thriving and bustling local scene for that sport in Ireland. Football and rugby are, by attendance, clearly the biggest sports in the country. Few can match the popularity of these sports in many parts of the world. But there is still plenty to be said for the lesser known and lesser played events, so just find what suits you!