Our History - Gaelic Football & Hurling Association of Australasia

In the early 1840's there was a newspaper report of a form of Gaelic football played in South Australia and it is acknowledged that similar games were played on the goldfields of Victoria in the 1850's. There is a lack of documentation of many challenge games of Gaelic football and hurling which were played between the Irish of Melbourne and Sydney in the 1920's and 1930's

Associations were formed firstly in Victoria and New South Wales to control and organise local games. This was followed in 1963 by the formation of an Association in South Australia and in Western Australia and Queensland soon after. The latest affiliated Australian unit is Tasmania.

At a meeting convened in Sydney in 1974 representatives from NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia met and formed the Gaelic Athletic Association of Australia to promote, control and foster Gaelic games on a national level. Subsequent to this with the affiliation of Auckland, Wellington-Hutt Valley and Canterbury (Christchurch) from New Zealand the name changed to the Gaelic Athletic Association of Australasia.

It is now known as the Gaelic Football & Hurling Association of Australasia Inc.

The role of the Australasian association has grown immensely in recent years in the administration and promotion of Gaelic games. Developments include Foundation and Level 1 Coaching Courses in Gaelic Football and hurling. The latest initiative has been presentations at PE teacher conferences with the aim of having Gaelic football part of school curriculums. Referee Courses to secure more qualified referees in Gaelic football, hurling and camogie are presented annually in each affiliate. The association’s website, Facebook etc. caters for the ever increasing number of people using social media. As a result of these initiatives there has been more than an increase of the number of teams competing in Gaelic Games including Camogie over the last number of years.

The first Interstate Football and Hurling Championship was played between NSW, Victoria and South Australia in 1971 in Melbourne. This has now developed into an annual competition, held every October in one of the affiliated State capitals. The Australasian Games are played over three or four days across all codes; Senior Men’s Football, Minor Football (under 18), Women’s Football, Hurling and Camogie, involving up to 600 players. The tournament concludes with a Gala Presentation Dinner at which the Australasian All Stars are named in each of the five codes.

Underage development is currently underway in a number of cities. Perth paved the way with a thriving "Junior Academy" that caters for youth north and south of the Swan River. In 2014 the first week-long Cúl Camps outside of Ireland were conducted under the tutelage of an experienced Coach from Leinster Council in Ireland. Around 100 young people from 6 years upwards attended the very successful camps. The boom in youth development continues with thriving weekly activities also on show in all the affiliates.

2014 also saw the first "World GAA Games" competition take place in Abu Dhabi for Men’s and Ladies Gaelic Football. The competition was open to all affiliates outside Ireland. Australasia entered a 9-a-side Women's team. The competition included teams from New York, Middle East, Asia, Europe, Canada, South Africa and Argentina. The Australasian women played Middle East in the final and with a minute remaining were 1 point ahead only to concede a penalty and lose by 2 points. Four of the nine players selected in the World All Star Team were Australasian representatives.

Subsequent to this Australasia entered teams in the 2016 and 2019 World Games both of which were held in Dublin. In 2016 there was a team in each of men’s and women’s football, hurling and camogie competitions with the camogie team winning the World title. There were again four teams in 2019 plus for the first time a team in each of men’s and women’s football made up entirely of Australian and New Zealand born players. Five of the teams played in their grand finals in Croke Park which is the home of Gaelic Games with the camogie and women’s teams winning the World titles.

There are now approximately 3 000 players involved in Gaelic games in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Wellington and Christchurch.

For further information on the association contact the GFHA Secretary at gerardro@bigpond.net.au or telephone 0402 337 838 (+61 402 337 838)

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