History of the Gaelic Athletic Association

History of the Gaelic Athletic Association

The History of the Gaelic Athletic Association is much shorter than the history of Gaelic games themselves. Hurling and Caid were recorded in early Irish history and they pre-date recorded history. The Gaelic Athletic Association itself was founded in 1884 .

Foundation and Early History

The man credited with much of the original impetus for founding the GAA was a Clareman named Michael Cusack. Born in 1847, Cusack pursued a career as a teacher at Blackrock College, in Dublin. In 1877 he set up his own cramming school, the Civil Service Academy, to prepare students for examinations into the British Civil Service. "Cusack's Academy," as it was known, and its pupils, did extremely well resulting in soaring attendance. Pupils at the Academy were encouraged to get involved in all forms of physical exercise and, as a language enthusiast, Cusack was troubled by falling standards in specifically Irish games. To remedy this situation, to re-establish the ancient Tailteann Games as an athletics competition with a distinctive Irish flavour, and to re-establish hurling as the national pastime, Cusack met with several other enthusiasts on Saturday, November 1, 1884 in Hayes's Hotel, Thurles, County Tipperary. This day was chosen for its mythological significance: according to legend, Samhain (November 1) was the day when the Fianna's power died. Cusack meant this choice of day to symbolise the rebirth of the Irish heroes, and the Gaelic Athletic Association for the Cultivation and Preservation of National Pastimes was established, its name subsequently shortened to Gaelic Athletic Association.

Within a few weeks of the organisation's foundation, Archbishop Thomas Croke of Cashel gave it his approval and became its first patron. Its other patrons included both Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell. Cusack was a difficult man to get along with, but in the first few months of the organisation he proved to be an excellent organiser. He did not, however continue to run the association for long after its foundation. Within eighteen months he was obliged to resign as a result of his failure to submit accounts for auditing. Croke introduced a new rule which forbade members of the GAA from playing "foreign and fantastic games" Fact|date=February 2007 such as tennis, cricket, polo, and croquet.

Over the next few years the GAA evolved even more. In 1886, County Committees were established. These became the units of representation for the new All-Ireland championship. Later, new rules for Gaelic football and hurling were drawn up by the Association and were published in the United Irishman newspaper. The year 1887 saw the first All-Ireland Championships being held in both codes of sport. 12 GAA counties of the 32 counties of Ireland entered, although only five competed in hurling and eight in football.

The GAA in the twentieth century

Up to the twentieth century most of the members were farm labourers, small farmers, barmen or shop assistants Fact|date=February 2007. But from 1900 onwards a new type of person — those who were now being influenced by the Gaelic League (1893) — joined the movement. They tended to be clerks, school teachers or civil servants. In 1922 it passed over the job of promoting athletics to the National Athletic and Cycling Association Fact|date=February 2007.

Important dates of the GAA

* 1884: The Gaelic Athletic Association is founded on November 1 ("Samhain": according to legend the day the Fianna fell from power) in Hayes's Hotel in Thurles, County Tipperary
* 1886: Wexford County board becomes the first GAA county organisation in the country.
* 1887: Tipperary and Limerick win the first All-Ireland Hurling and Football Finals respectively.
* 1892: The rules of hurling and football are altered: Goals are made equal to five points and teams are reduced from 21 to 17-a-side. Inter-county teams introduced to the All-Ireland championships. Congress granted permission for winning club to use players from other clubs in the county thus the inter county teams come into being
* 1896: The value of a goal is further reduced from five points to three points.
* 1900: The provincial councils of Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster are sanctioned.
* 1904: First official camogie matches.
* 1912: The Junior Championships are introduced at All-Ireland level.
* 1913: The Jones's Road Ground, Dublin, is purchased by the GAA and renamed Croke Memorial Park.
* 1920: Bloody Sunday: Twelve spectators and a player, Micheal Hogan, are killed in Croke Park during a raid by Auxiliaries during the Irish War of Independence.
* 1923: Galway hurlers win Connacht's first All-Ireland.
* 1924: The Tailteann Games are held in Croke Park.
* 1925: The declaration rule now means that players can play for their county of birth, rather than their county of residence. Galway win Connacht's first All-Ireland Football title after a series of objections.
* 1926: The first radio broadcast of a GAA match takes place when Galway play Kilkenny.
* 1927: The Railway Cup competitions are introduced.
* 1931: The name "Cumann Lúthchleas Gael" is adopted.
* 1933: Cavan footballers win Ulster's first All-Ireland
* 1932: The first All-Ireland Camogie Championship takes place.
* 1935: The GAA enters its second half century. A crowd of 50,000 attend the All-Ireland Finals.
* 1938: Micheál Ó Hehir commentates on his first GAA match
* 1939: The Cork V. Kilkenny hurling match is remembered as the "thunder & lightning final" as the climax is played in a storm. On the same day World War II begins.
* 1940: Penalty kick and penalty puck introduced.
* 1947: The Cavan V. Kerry All-Ireland Football Final is played in the Polo Grounds, New York. Cavan emerge victorious.
* 1954: A hurling record 84,856 attend Croke Park when Cork play Wexford in the All-Ireland final.
* 1959: The 75th Anniversary of the GAA is commemorated with the opening of the first cantilevered New Hogan Stand at Croke Park.
* 1960: Down footballers become the first Northern Ireland county to win an All-Ireland.
* 1961: A record 90,556 attend the Down V. Offaly All-Ireland Final at Croke Park.
* 1961: The first Poc Fada tournament is held.
* 1962: The first GAA match is broadcast live on Telefís Éireann (now RTÉ).
* 1967: The first International rules football game against an Australian side is played.
* 1971: The first club All-Irelands are played. Roscrea win the hurling competition and East Kerry win the football competition.
* 1974: The Ladies' Gaelic football association is founded in Thurles.
* 1976: Páirc Uí Chaoimh is opened in Cork City. It is the first purpose-built GAA stadium.
* 1984: The Centenary year of the GAA. The All-Ireland Hurling Final between Cork & Offaly is played in Semple Stadium, Thurles.
* 1993: A grand plan to completely re-construct Croke Park was launched.
* 1996: The new Cusack Stand was opened.
* 1997: The "back door" system introduced in the All-Ireland Hurling Championship. The first final between two sides from the same province takes place between Clare & Tipperary.
* 1998: Offaly become the first Hurling side to win an All-Ireland through the "back door".
* 1999: Gaelic Players Association founded.
* 2001: The "back door" system introduced in the All-Ireland Gaelic Football Championship. Galway become the first football side to win an All-Ireland through the Qualifiers.
* 2002: The redeveloped Cusack, Canal End and Hogan Stands are officially opened.
* 2003: Tyrone & Armagh meet in the first All-Ireland Football Final between two teams from the same province.
* 2004: The first Tommy Murphy Cup is played.
* 2005: The first Christy Ring Cup and Nicky Rackard Cup are held.
* 2005: The re-development of Hill 16 is completed and is functional for the All-Ireland finals.
* 2005: The GAA gives temporary permission for Croke Park to be used from 2007 for soccer and rugby internationals while Lansdowne Road, the home of both sports is being rebuilt.
* 2007: The first game to be played in Croke Park under lights. The game is also the largest league attendance ever of 81,678 is also recorded, Dublin are beaten by Tyrone 0-10 to 0-11 . [cite web |url=http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article2237918.ece|title=A right royal row averted|accessdate=02-07-07]


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