The 5 most popular sports in Ireland, RANKED

Ireland is not only a great country to visit for the avid adventurer and holiday enthusiast but also for any budding sports fan as there are many popular sports in Ireland to see and enjoy.

The 5 most popular sports in Ireland, RANKED.

Sport plays an important role in Irish culture and its influence can be found in every Irish village, town and city. According to the latest research, approximately half of the population of Ireland are said to participate in sport at least once a week.

When it comes to sports on the Emerald Isle, there is a wide variety of sports to pick from, with games played both nationally and globally. In this article, we will list the 5 most popular sports in Ireland.

5: Golf – for those with a perfect swing

Golf is one of the most popular sports in Ireland.
The Royal County Down Golf Course, with the Mourne Mountains in the background.

Ireland not only has some of the best golfers in the world such as Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy, but it also can proudly claim to have some of the world’s best and finest golf courses such as the Royal County Down course which has been ranked as one of the top 100 golf courses outside of the US.

Ireland has played host to some of golf’s most major tournaments such as the Ryder Cup and even played host to the 148th Open at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim in 2019 which was won by the Irishman Shane Lowry.

4: Athletics – for the fitness enthusiast

Athletics, for the fitness freaks, is one of the most popular sports in Ireland.
The Connemarathon race. Credit: @connemarathon / Instagram

Athletics is one of the most popular sports in Ireland and includes track and field athletes as well as road running, cross-country running, race walking, ultra-distance running and mountain running.

Athletics is very popular in Irish schools and there are many marathons held throughout the country for both young and old to partake in. These include the Connemarathon in Galway and the Wild Atlantic Ultra in Mayo.

3: Rugby – one of the most popular sports in Ireland

Rugby is now one of the most popular sports in Ireland.
The Aviva Stadium. Credit:

Rugby is one of the sports which Ireland truly excels at, which is an impressive feat for a nation as small as ours. In recent years Ireland has achieved a lot of success in the Rugby world by defeating the almighty All Blacks on two occasions, winning two Six Nations’ titles in 2014 and 2015 and a brilliant Grand Slam in 2018.

This sporting success has helped to increase the popularity of the sport in Ireland with the Aviva Stadium regularly drawing full crowds to their games anytime Ireland plays.

2: Soccer – for the beautiful game

Soccer is not only the most popular sport in the world, but one of the most popular sports in Ireland.
Shane Duffy scores a header vs Denmark. Credit: @roi_football_fanpage / Instagram

Soccer, or football as it is known abroad, is truly a global game as it is the most popular sport in the world with over three billion followers. Ireland’s men’s soccer team ranks 34th in the world and the female team ranks in 32nd place.

In Ireland, there are two domestic soccer leagues. One is the Irish League that is played by teams in the north of the country and the other is the League of Ireland, which is a professional league that is comprised of Derry City and teams from the other provinces of Ireland.

While it comes as no surprise that soccer is one of the most popular sports in Ireland it still falls short of claiming the number one place in our list, even though 19% of Irish people regard it to be their favourite sport.

1: Gaelic Games (GAA) – Ireland’s very own indigenous sports

The GAA is a combination of the most popular sports in Ireland.
Cork v Waterford hurling game. Credit: @skysportsgaa / Instagram

Following research conducted by the Teneo Sport and Sponsorship Index (TSSI) in 2018, Gaelic Games officially overtook soccer as the most popular sport in Ireland for the first time in nine years.

Gaelic Games are unique sports as they are Ireland’s very own indigenous sports and have a long history. Gaelic games are comprised of four sports in total which are Gaelic Football, Hurling, Camogie and Handball.

Hurling is Ireland’s oldest sport as it dates back thousands of years ago. There are over 2,200 GAA clubs in every corner of Ireland which is proof that these sports are entrenched in every Irish community and play a very important role for Irish people. 

 That concludes our list of the 5 most popular sports in Ireland. How many of them have you played and caught a game of?