The original FA rules for soccer in 1863 made no mention of neutral referees, different coloured shirts, goalkeepers, tossing coins for ends, changing ends at half time, playing a set number of minutes per half, goal kicks, or marking the top of the goal with a crossbar. These came about over years of trial, error and heated debates. Yet these late 19th century innovations had all somehow time warped their way back into ancient Irish tradition as well.
This chapter examines the contrasting reactions to the foundation of the Gaelic
Athletic Association in 1884, and how the new organisation managed to find its place in the complex patchwork of late 19th century Irish society.
These pages also examine the earliest forms of Gaelic football, and ask whether there really was anything peculiarly Irish about them, or whether all that really
mattered was the fact that they hadn’t been written in England. This controversial but less self-congratulatory telling of the GAA story will reveal a few surprises about the English influence on the Irish game.
Most of the defining features of the Gaelic game were not introduced until later. Learn here about the development of the H shaped goal and the modern scoring system, about Sean Lavan and the origins of the solo run, and also how the man who started it all, Michael Cusack, so brilliantly engineered his own spectacular downfall.