Beginners Guide to Gaelic Sports Betting

Dia dhaoibh, everyone! If you're tired of seeing the same old things when placing bets on football, basketball, or rugby, then Gaelic sports are the breath of fresh air you need. Why, exactly?

Nothing exemplifies Irish history and the battle-ready Irish spirit better than these traditional games. Our team of experts created the ultimate beginner’s guide to Gaelic sports betting to prepare you for the exciting world you’re entering. We’ll cover hurling and Gaelic footy, with added tips, historical data, and much more. Are you ready to take the plunge and see what all the fuss is about? Yes? If so, a ligean ar dul!

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Understanding the Rules

If you haven’t previously watched Gaelic footy and hurling, both sports probably seem like something otherworldly and different. Don’t worry, it’s a completely normal first impression when you’re just starting off with Gaelic sports betting. That’s why the NostraBet crew put together a mini-rulebook of sports, just to get you started.

Of course, like any type of sport, there are a million nuances to both hurling and Gaelic football. That’s why you should treat the rules below as pointers on how to watch actual games. You can further develop your understanding by immersing yourself in the footage, and you’ll be able to place Gaelic sports bets in no time. Without further ado, here’s the crux of these staples of Irish culture.

Gaelic Football Rules

gaa football game
  • Gaelic football is a sport played between two teams, each consisting of 15 players. The positions are the same as in other versions of footy. You have a goalkeeper, six backs, two midfielders, and six forwards. Unlike in association football, the players are assigned a number based on their position on the pitch. Each Gaelic football squad can also have up to 15 substitutes.
  • Each match lasts either 60 or 70 minutes, depending on the level of play and the county where the match occurs. It’s split into two equal halves (30 or 35 minutes), with a 5-15 minute break.
  • Matches take place on a Gaelic pitch, 130-145 meters long and 80-90 meters wide. The exact size depends on the level of competition. At the far ends of the pitch, there are two goals. Each goal consists of two goalposts that reach up to 6-7 meters in height. They are 6.5 meters apart and are connected using a 2.5 meter-tall crossbar. The area is limited by the goalposts, and the crossbar has a net behind it, just like in soccer.
  • The objective of Gaelic football is to score more points than the opponent. This can be done in two ways. The first one involves kicking or punching the ball so that it lands in the back of the net for 3 points. Doing the same thing, but with the ball landing above the crossbar and anywhere between the tall goalposts, is worth 1 point.
  • There’s no extra equipment required to play Gaelic football. The only thing you need is a football. It’s very similar to a volleyball ball and has a circumference of around 70cm, along with a weight of 500g.
  • In Gaelic football, players advance the ball by carrying it, bouncing it, kicking it, or hand-passing it. You can also solo the ball. This means basically dropping the ball when you’re carrying it and using your feet to kick it back into your hands again. It’s forbidden to pick the ball up with your hands, you must first kick it to catch it.
  • As for refereeing a Gaelic football game, there can be up to eight officials on the pitch at the same time. The main one is the referee, who follows the ball at all times. Two linesmen are there too, but they are on the outer side of the outline. Two umpires stand by each goal and raise a green flag for 3-point scores and a white one for 1-point ones. For inter-county games, up to two sideline officials monitor what’s going on.
  • In terms of fouling, it’s somewhat similar to association footy. Fouls result in free kicks, while fouls inside the big rectangular area result in penalty kicks. You also can’t slide tackle, block a shot with your feet, touch a goalkeeper when he’s in the small rectangle, or tackle with both hands. Wrestling the ball from an opposing player is also illegal. You can only slap it away.

Gaelic Hurling Rules

hurling match players
  • If you’ve understood Gaelic football, becoming a Gaelic hurling bettor will be a piece of cake. There are many similarities between the two. The first one is the pitch. All Gaelic football pitches can be used for hurling, which was decided upon by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). There are also 15 players on each team, with the positions being exactly the same (goalie, back, midfielder, forward). The game duration is the same, with matches being 60 or 70 minutes long, with 30 or 35-minute halves.
  • In terms of equipment, hurling differs from Gaelic football. All players must wear a protective helmet, along with a mouthguard. This has been mandatory at all levels since 2010. Other than that, there is also the hurl, also known as the hurley or hurling stick. It’s up to 90cm long, and players use it to score a goal. It’s round for the most part but flattens out near the end, culminating in the ‘bas’ in the end. Think of it as a round, flat part that’s used to strike the ball. Goalies have a bas that’s twice as large as that belonging to outfielders.
  • And speaking about the ball, it’s called ‘sliotar.’ It has a 6.9 to 7.2cm diameter and is very thick and heavy compared to its size, coming in at a weight of up to 120g. Usually, it has a centre made out of cork and leather covering.
  • The goal of hurling is to place the sliotar between the goalposts. If it lands beneath the crossbar, it’s a green flag and 3 points, while a shot between the posts but above the crossbar yields 1 point and a white flag.
  • Hurlers can only handle the ball using the hurl or their hands. You can’t pick the ball in your hand without flicking it up using the curl. Then, you can only carry the ball in your hand for four steps or less. However, hurlers can carry the ball on the bas of the hurl for indefinite distances. Also, it’s forbidden to switch hands, hand-pass into a goal (punching only), or catch the ball three times in a row without making contact with the ground.
  • When it comes to player vs player contact, tackles are allowed. Blocking a swing with your hurl is permitted, as is snatching the sliotar from an opponent’s hurl of your own. Two players can also collide with their shoulders when competing for possession.
  • The refereeing system is the same as in Gaelic football. Six officials are a standard setup, with big games requiring two linesmen. However, championship games and inter-county matches welcome the use of Hawkeye technology. It allows the officials to take a look at aerial footage to determine the outcome of a situation.

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If you’re looking for the best Gaelic sports betting odds, you’ll definitely find them at most British or Irish bookmakers. However, taking punts on Gaelic games has transcended the borders of the British Isles. More and more people worldwide are taking an interest in hurling and footy, so international bookies are also an option.

Still, NostraBet advises you to play at Gaelic sports betting sites recommended by our team. They are 100% legal, verified, and have proven to provide excellent markets and odds for these sports.

Placing a Bet on Gaelic Sports

Now that you know more about these options, our Gaelic Sports betting guide will show you how we’ve placed a bet. For starters, we chose to use 888sport because it is one of the sites known for its good odds for some of the less popular sports in iGaming.

We already had an account with the bookie, so we made a deposit and went to the sports section. Once there, we chose the GAA Football options and found several intriguing matches from the National Football League. In the end, we chose to bet on the Roscommon vs Monaghan match and the Match Winner Market:

  • Roscommon – 1.727
  • Draw – 7.50
  • Monaghan – 2.50

Considering the high odds for a draw, our team decided to put their luck to the test and bet $20 on this outcome. In other words, winning this bet would result in $150 or a $130 profit.

Which Are the Most Popular Competitions?

If you’re looking to bet on Gaelic sports online, there’s no shortage of competitions to choose from. Both football and hurley are deeply embedded into the Irish national identity, so you’ll find clubs in just about every town and village. Sadly, most bookies aren’t willing or cannot provide sufficient markets or coverage for these smaller events. Thus, you should stick to these competitions to get the best info, stats, and markets.

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship

This is the cream of the crop in terms of Gaelic football. Each year, on the 35th Sunday, the tournament occurs at the Croke Park stadium in Dublin. The format may sound tricky, but it’s simple once you get into it a bit.

In Ireland, there are 32 counties, with each one having a team that represents it. All counties have their own Gaelic games, where the best teams advance to the Provincial Championship. There are four provinces — Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster. Interestingly, there are teams from London and New York, and they’re a part of the Connacht province. Both of these cities have large Irish populations, so they have a right to compete for the title.

The winners of the Provincial Championship advance straight into the All-Ireland Super 8s, which is basically the quarterfinals. The other four spots are given to teams that have failed to win the Provincial title. These squads have to face off against one another in two rounds of Qualifiers.

The All-Ireland Super 8s have the form of a round-robin tournament, with teams being separated into two groups. The top two teams from each group advance to the All-Ireland semi-finals, with the matchups always being ‘group winner vs the other group’s runner-up’. The winners of the semis get to battle for the Sam Maguire Cup.

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship

The format of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship is a little bit different, as it changes constantly. Usually, it’s based on a tiered system. The top tier is the All-Ireland Championship, as well as the Leinster and Munster Senior Hurling Championships. The lower tiers are the Joe McDonagh Cup (2nd), the Christy Ring Cup (3rd), the Nicky Rackard Cup (4th), and the Lory Meagher Cup (5th). The winners of each tier advance to the next one.

As for the main Championship, it’s a knockout tournament featuring the best teams from the Leinster and Munster Championships. There are two Qualifying Rounds, followed by the quarterfinals, the semis, and the big game — the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

If you’re unsure about the format this year, check the official page of the GAA. Your bookie should also have the necessary info.

National Football League

Another GAA-approved competition, the National Football League (NFL), features 32 teams from every Irish county. They are separated into four divisions, each comprising eight teams. The divisions are further divided into North and South subdivisions, each consisting of four squads.

Every team faces their opponents once per season, while the top 2 teams in Division 1 North and Division 1 South advance to the NFL-semis. The winners of each match square off for the New Ireland cup. While not as high-profile as the top competition, it’s still scintillating. So, if you want to bet on Gaelic football online, don’t ignore the NFL.

Short History & Facts

Hurling is one of the oldest sports still being played, as some sources state that it was already popular amongst the Celtic tribes in 1200 BCE. It gave birth to other similar sports played on the British Isles, such as cammag, shinty, and bando. There’s also a ladies’ version called camogie. It’s slightly different from hurling, as several rules have been tweaked to allow the players to shine.

Gaelic football was finally consolidated as a sport in the 19th century, but it was played unofficially in the 1300s. Initially, it was a form of excitement for the gentry but was quickly adopted by regular people. Even today, Gaelic football serves as a source of pride for residents of all Irish counties, as it ignites local and regional rivalries on a yearly basis.

Final Thoughts

If you’re tired of big-staking moves and billions of dollars being thrown around, Gaelic sports betting is for you. Both hurling and Gaelic football are strictly amateur, so all you have to focus on is the beautiful gameplay. No drama, no fuss, nothing. Just 30 men are facing off to see whose team will prevail.

So, if you’re on the fence about what you should do, don’t hesitate and dip your feet in. Gaelic sports betting is slowly but surely becoming a global phenomenon. It might be the best possible time to try it out. Trust us, you won’t regret this experience!


Can I bet on Gaelic football matches using the in-play feature?

Absolutely! Live Gaelic football betting is a very popular pastime for many punters. Just visit your bookie of choice, and you should see all the markets in the live betting section. Hurling is frequently seen, as well.

Is betting on Gaelic football secure?

If you choose a reputable bookie recommended by NostraBet, then you have nothing to worry about.

Are there any prop bets for Gaelic football betting?

When big games are going on, you will most definitely see many prop markets. Both the NFL and the All-Ireland Championship are hotbeds for all kinds of exotic bets.

Can I bet on futures for Gaelic hurling?

Yes, you can bet on the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship winner before it even starts. Some bookies offer such markets on the Leinster and Munster Championships, too.

Is Gaelic football similar to association football?

In a way, yes. However, it combines elements of several different sports and can’t really be compared to any other form of athletic ability. Its closest cousin is hurling, of course.

Are there any special strategies for Gaelic sports betting?

Not really. The format of the game is similar to American football, futsal, and association football.

Should I trust Gaelic football/hurling betting tips?

You should never rely entirely on Gaelic sports betting tips. However, you can still use them as a reference. Just make sure the tipster you’re sourcing your info from is verified and has a publicly visible hit rate.

Kristiyan Kyulyunkov
Kristiyan KyulyunkovKristiyan Kyulyunkov specializes in bookmakers’ analyses. He has years of experience betting online and always keeps an eye on the different operators. His tasks in Nostrabet include writing, editing and publishing expert reviews.