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Ball rules Tackling and interference
Pitch diagram Fouls and misconduct
Scoring Officials and equipment

Gaelic football pitch

The Gaelic football field


Objective: Two teams of fifteen players catch, fist, or kick the ball to try and get it through the opponents goalposts at the end of the field. A game lasts 70 minutes, with a maximum interval of 10 minutes at half time. In the All Ireland senior finals and semi-finals the games last 80 minutes.

Three points are scored for getting the ball between the posts and under the crossbar, one point for getting it between the posts and over the crossbar. See Scoring for more details.

The captains toss a coin for the choice of ends (which goal to aim for). Two players from each team stand in two lines at the centre of the field. The other players stand behind the 45 metre lines. See pitch diagram for details. The referee then throws the ball over the heads of the players.

Three substitutes per team are allowed. They can enter play only during stoppages.


Ball rules

Players can kick and fist the ball, pass it from hand to hand, strike the ball with the hands when it is off the ground, bounce the ball between the hand and the ground with one hand.

Players cannot throw the ball, hold the ball longer than is necessary to pass it, hold the ball for more than four steps, or bounce the ball on the hand (tipping the ball). Players other than the goalkeepers cannot play a ball that is on the ground with their hands, unless they are knocked to the ground while in possession of the ball. In this case they can fist it away.

Goalkeepers can pick the ball up off the ground in their own parallelogram (the box around the goalposts) with their hands, or fist it up.

The ball can be passed by bouncing it on the ground for another player to catch, as throwing is not allowed. Fisting the ball is achieved by using the clenched hands to move the ball, whereas striking with the open hand, palm or back, is not allowed.

Pitch diagram

Gaelic football pitch diagram
A - parallelogram (4.57 metres deep)
B - 13 metre line
C - 20 metre line
D - 45 metre line
E - centre line

Note: The size given above is for the maximum size of pitch. The minimum size is 130 metres by 80 metres (426 feet by 262 feet).


The goalposts are 6.4 metres (21 feet) wide, and 4.88 metres (16 feet) high, with the crossbar at the halfway point - 2.44 metres (8 feet).


A goal is scored when the ball passes between the posts and under the crossbar, except when carried or thrown by a member of the attacking side (in this case it would not count). A goal scored like this scores three points.

If the ball goes through the posts and over the crossbar, one point is scored. Again, if carried or thrown by an attacker, it would not count.

Inside the parallelogram
No points are scored if an attacking player (with or without the ball) enters the parallelogram before the ball, unless the ball re-enters the area before the player can leave it, or unless the ball is high enough to be out of reach of players in the parallelogram.

Kick out
In a kick out from goal, the ball is kicked from the ground within the parallelogram. All opponents must be beyond the 20 metre line, all players on the same team as the kicker (except the goalkeeper) must be beyond the 13 metre line.

After a goal, the ball is kicked out from the 20 metre line by the non-scoring team, and no player can stand within 13 metres until the ball has been kicked.


Free kick
A free kick is awarded for all infringements (see Fouls and misconduct), and except for penalty kicks, is taken from the spot indicated by the referee.

The player taking the kick cannot touch the ball after kicking it until another player from either side has touched it, unless it rebounds off the cross bar or one of the posts.

If a player stands nearer than 13 metres or illegally charges a free kick or 45 metre kick, the non-offending side gets a free kick from the point where the offending player stood or charged. If the charge takes place within the parallelogram, a penalty kick is awarded to the non-offending team.

Penalty kick
If a defender commits a foul within the parallelogram, a penalty kick is awarded to the attacking team from the centre of the 13 metre line. All players other than the goalkeeper must be behind the 20 metre line.

Sideline kick
A side kick is awarded to the opposition if a player plays the ball over a sideline (the 145 metre lines). The ball is kicked from the point where it crossed the line and is placed by a linesman. No other player may stand within 13 metres. The kicker may not touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player.

45 metre free kick
A 45 metre kick is awarded to the attacking side if a defender plays the ball over one of the end lines (the 90 metre lines). It is taken from the 45 metre line closest to the end line and opposite the point where the ball crossed the line.

Tackling and interference

A player may charge an opponent shoulder to shoulder. Other than this counts as a foul. If a player is being fairly charged turns to make the charge come from behind, that does not count as a foul. A goalkeeper cannot be charged in the parallelogram unless they have the ball or are obstructing an opponent. Players who do not have the ball must not be tackled or charged.

If anyone other than a player stops the ball from crossing a sideline, a sideline kick is awarded to the team whose player touched the ball last. A goal (three points), point (one point), or 45 metre kick is awarded if the ball is similarly stopped from scoring or crossing an endline.

Fouls and misconduct

Players may not:

- push, kick, trip, hold, strike, or jump at an opponent

- obstruct a player with the hand or arm, holding or not

- reach from behind a player who has the ball

- charge a player from behind

- charge or interfere with an opponent who has or is moving to play the ball

Officials and equipment

There will be a referee, who controls the game, two line officials (or linesmen), one at each side of the field, who change ends at half time, and four goal umpires, one outside each goalpost, who do not change ends.

The ball is round, and weighs between 320 and 425 grams (0.7 to 1 pound) and has a circumference of between 69 and 74 centimetres (27 to 29 inches).

Players wear shirts, shorts, and socks in their team colours and studded boots as for football (soccer).

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