The rules of Gaelic Football are the following.
Length of matches
The majority of adult football and all minor and under-21 matches last for 60 minutes, divided into two halves of 30 minutes, with the exception of senior inter-county games, which last for 70 minutes (two halves of 35 minutes). Draws are decided by replays or by playing 20 minutes of extra time (two halves of 10 minutes). Juniors have a half of 20 minutes or 25 minutes in some cases. Half-time lasts for about 5 or 10 minutes.
The positions in Gaelic Football are the same in Hurling.
The game is played with a round leather football made of 18 stitched leather panels, similar in appearance to a traditional volleyball (but larger), with a circumference of 69–74 cm (27–29 in), weighing between 370–425 g (13.1–15.0 oz) when dry It may be kicked or hand passed. A hand pass is not a punch but rather a strike of the ball with the side of the closed fist, using the knuckle of the thumb.
The following are considered technical fouls (“fouling the ball”):
- Bouncing the ball twice in a row (It may be soloed continuously)
- Changing hands: Throwing the ball from your right hand to left or vice versa (legal in the ladies’ game)
- Going four steps without releasing, bouncing or soloing the ball (soloing involves kicking the ball into one’s own hands)
- Hand passing a goal. To hand pass a ball with an open palm there must be a clear striking action (the ball may be punched over the bar from up in the air, but not into the goal).
- Picking the ball directly off the ground (it must be scooped up into the hands by the foot). However, in ladies gaelic football the ball may be picked up directly.
- Square ball is an often controversial rule: If, at the moment the ball enters the small square, there is already an attacking player inside the small rectangle, then a free out is awarded. As of 2012 square balls are only counted if the player is inside the square when the ball is kicked from a free or set piece. An opposing player is allowed in the square during open play.
- Throwing the ball (it may be “hand-passed” by striking with the fist).
Aggressive fouls are physical or verbal fouls committed by a player against an opponent or the referee. The player can be yellowed carded and cautioned ordered off the pitch without a substitute (red card), or (beginning 1 January 2014) ordered off the pitch with a substitution (Black Card)
A dissent foul is a foul where a player fails to comply with the officials’ judgment and/or instructions. The player can be cautioned (shown a yellow card), ordered off the pitch without a substitute (red card), the free kick placement moved 13m further down-field, or in certain circumstances, the game can be terminated. The following are considered dissent fouls:
- To challenge the authority of a Referee, Umpire, Linesman or Sideline Official
- To fail to comply with a Referee’s instruction to use a mouth guard.
- To refuse to leave the field of play, on the instruction of the Referee, for attention, after an injury involving bleeding.
- To show dissent with the Referee’s decision to award a free kick to the opposing team.
- To refuse to leave the field of play when ordered off (Red Card) or rejoin the game after being ordered off.
- A team or player(s) leaving the field without the Referee’s permission or refusing to continue playing.
If the ball goes over the crossbar, a point is scored and a white flag is raised by an umpire. A point is scored by either kicking the ball over the crossbar, or fisting it over, in which case the hand must be closed while striking the ball. If the ball goes below the crossbar, a goal, worth three points, is scored, and a green flag is raised by an umpire. A goal is scored by kicking the ball into the net, not by fist passing the ball into it. However, a player can strike the ball into the net with a closed fist if the ball was played to him by another player or came in contact with the post/crossbar/ground prior to connection. The goal is guarded by a goalkeeper. Scores are recorded in the format Goal Total-Point Total. To determine the score-line goals must be converted to points and added to the other points. For example 1-7 = 10 points.
Shoulder to shoulder contact and slapping the ball out of an opponent’s hand are permitted, but the following are all fouls:
- Blocking a shot with the foot
- Pulling an opponent’s jersey
- Pushing an opponent
- Pulling a player down cynical fouling
- Sliding tackles
- Striking an opponent
- Touching the goalkeeper when he/she is inside the small rectangle
- Using both hands to tackle
- Wrestling the ball from an opponent’s hands.
- A match begins with the referee throwing the ball up between the four mid fielders.
- After an attacker has put the ball wide of the goals, scored a point or a goal, the goalkeeper may take a kick out from the ground at the 13m line. All players must be beyond the 20m line.
- After a defender has put the ball wide of the goals, an attacker may take a “45” from the ground on the 45m line, level with where the ball went wide.
- After a player has put the ball over the sideline, the other team may take a sideline kick at the point where the ball left the pitch. It may be kicked from the ground or the hands. The player who is taking the sideline kick must not pass the boundary line while taking.
- After a player has committed a foul, the other team may take a free kick (usually shortened to “free” in reports/commentaries) at the point where the foul was committed. It may be kicked from the ground or the hands.
- If a player has been fouled while passing the ball, the free may be taken from the point where the ball landed.
- After a defender has committed a foul inside the large rectangle, the other team may take a penalty kick from the ground from the centre of the 11m line. Only the goalkeeper may guard the goals.
- If many players are struggling for the ball and it is not clear who was fouled first, the referee may choose to throw the ball up between two opposing players.
A football match is overseen by up to eight officials:
- The referee
- Two linesmen
- Sideline official/Standby linesman (often referred to as “fourth official”; inter-county games only)
- Four umpires (two at each goal)