If you’ve never been to a GAA match before and are planning on going to see one, read this article on things you should never do at a GAA match and thank us later.
GAA is an incremental part of Irish culture and for some, it is a way of life.
From the very early days of playing matches in local fields (which were far from ideal playing conditions) to All-Ireland finals in Croke Park in Dublin (now the fourth biggest stadium in Europe) GAA has come a long way.
The game may have gotten a bit more glamorous and professional over the years (players, however, are still considered amateurs and are not paid). However, the culture and norms stay the same.
If you’re planning on attending a GAA match soon, there are a few things you will need to know to save you some embarrassment. You may know the official rules of the game, but do you know the hidden rules?
Here are ten things you should never do at a GAA match.
10. Come without a jacket – do you think we live in Spain?
This is a rule for going anywhere in Ireland, really. Even on the sunniest of days, you cannot rule out the chance of rain, it’s just the way it is.
Don’t get mad at us; take it up with the guys in Met Éireann. If you plan on going to a match, please bring a jacket, even if the sun is shining, you just never know. You aren’t an outfield player running around, so keep yourself warm.
9. Find yourself on the opposition’s side of the stadium – an unpleasant situation
Do your research, find out where your fellow supporters are sitting and go there. You don’t want to be wearing a Cork jersey and find yourself in a sea of Kerry jerseys (it’s like being fed to the lions).
Also, you’ll have no one around you to celebrate with if your team wins, and you’ll find yourself the topic of laughter on social media or Sky Sports that night.
8. Not singing the national anthem, or worse, TALKING during it – shameful behaviour
Like many sports, the national anthem is sung before the match begins. We would hope that most of you know the national anthem (if not, go learn it).
If you don’t, please, please, please do not talk during it. It is highly disrespectful and will not earn you many brownie points with the people around you.
7. Waving a flag for the entire match – keep it for the scores
By all means, wave your flag wide and proud on game day when your team scores or wins the All-Ireland title, but keep it to that.
For the sake of the person behind you who is trying to watch the match and for your poor arms’ sake, keep it low. It’s going to start cramping up if you’re waving a flag for 70 minutes.
6. Getting up and down throughout the match – one of the worst things you should never do at a GAA match
Seats are packed tightly together in GAA stadiums. So, if one person gets up the whole row will have to stand up.
Try to go to the bathroom at halftime or before the match starts. Matchday etiquette is important.
5. Shout handball – have you even read the rules?
In both hurling and football, you are allowed to touch the ball with your hand. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to play the game without touching the ball, especially in Gaelic football.
4. Park illegally near the stadium – you will be caught out
If you think you’ve been embarrassed before, you’ve never experienced your license plate being called out over the intercom at a match being asked to move your car (yes, this does happen).
Plan your parking situation beforehand if you want to avoid this mortification and the headaches after games that ensue.
3. Be on your phone – watch the match!
Tickets to the All-Ireland Finals are like gold dust. If you are lucky enough to get one, please don’t be on your phone for the entire match. The modern game is as popular as ever.
We can assure you that what is going on down at the field between the inter-county players is much more riveting than your Instagram feed. RTÉ, BBC, and Sky Sports will have the action recorded for you, anyway.
2. Cheer when a player on the opposition gets injured – have some respect
No matter how much you dislike the opposition, you should never celebrate when one of their players gets injured, in either Gaelic football or hurling.
This is not sportsmanship and is one of the worst things you should never do at a GAA match. There is no place in the modern game for this. It could even be a young man or woman making their championship debut.
1. Leave before the match is over – even if your team is losing
You should support your team whether they are hammering the other team or being hammered. This is a game, not a training session.
We know you may want to beat the traffic but there is nothing worse than for a player to look up in the crowd and see their supporters leaving.
If you stick to these rules about things you should never do at a GAA match, you should be just fine.
If this is your championship debut, pay even more attention to the rules to avoid any headaches after games. Enjoy the match!