In terms of sports, Ireland has its own identity and citizens of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland enjoy a whole host of different sporting events.
Having been played in the country for several hundred years, Gaelic football is the national sport of Ireland and is by far the most popular and accounts for more than a third of total sports attendances in the whole country. Gaelic football can be best described as a mixture of football and rugby. Kerry are the current reigning champions of the sport, having defeated Donegal in the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in front of more than 80,000 fans.
Another sport native to Ireland is hurling, which accounts for about a quarter of all attendances at live sporting events. Hurling has prehistoric origins and has been played for more than 3000 years. Each player has a hurley (a wooden stick) that is used to hit the sliotar (a ball) between the opponents’ goalposts, either into the net which is guarded by a goalkeeper, or over the crossbar. Hurling is an extremely fast and exhilarating sport and remains passionately supported in Ireland although it hasn’t taken off significantly elsewhere in the whole world.
One of their two national sports, football is very popular in Ireland and the country has produced some fantastic players in recent years. The League of Ireland, the domestic competition, isn’t the best when it comes to standard, with most of the top grassroots players moving to England or other abroad countries due to the financial incentives. Standing-out players in recent years are Roy Keane, Andy Reid, Damien Duff, and Roy Keane.
As a spectator sport, horse racing is also favorite in Ireland with some of the best racehorses, most talented trainers and biggest breeding operations in the world nestled in the Emerald Isle. Tony McCoy, the best jump jockey of all time, calls Northern Ireland home, and the Irish’s passion is there for all to see every year when thousands travel for the Cheltenham festival in England.