14-06-24 GAA Rounders

GAA Rounders where it all began and where it is today

Category : Front Page News | Sub Category : Front Page Posted on 2024-03-24 22:52:29

GAA Rounders where it all began and where it is today

The Game 

When one mentions the game of Rounders it is usually accompanied by the usual suspect quotes "I loved playing that in school".   "I thought that was just a kids game" ,"I didn't know it was part of the GAA.
However, what is old can sometimes still be very new.  

The History 

Rounders was known to have been played in many different parishes throughout Ireland at various times, but extremely little in the line of historical accounts have been recorded or spoken of. Footage exists of the game being played at the Tailteann games in 1922.  Circa 1958, Antrim Native Peader O'Tuaitain, while browsing bookshops in Belfast during lunch times, acquired a copy of the G.A.A. Official Guide, in which was printed a field diagram and complete set of Rounders playing rules, in English agus as Gaelige.   This official guide was circulating within all clubs and committees in Ireland and other lands from as early as eighteen eighty-four. Filling a dozen pages at the back of the book, yet it remained a section that no one appeared to know anything about. So began Peaders' quest to promote the game of Rounders.  

Despite the apparent lack of interest in the sport, Peader was not to be deterred.  He spent a lifetime promoting the game through various school programmes in Ulster and was largely responsible for the games revival.  He gathered help along the way and established the rounders championships which remain in place to this day.  His enthusiasm for the game is still very evident to this day and he keeps a keen eye on all things rounders whenever he can. I often wonder, had Peader the power of today's social media at his disposal, how big would the game have grown?  

Minority sports can be a tough sell initially, but Rounders has proved a hidden gem attached to the biggest amateur organisation in the world. For those that play the game competitively, it is often pondered as to why there are not more clubs competing.  On closer analysis, it isn’t for the want of not playing in my experience. You can join a GAA club in almost every parish in Ireland, but if you want to play rounders you have only 54 choices.  Why such a limited availability?  The truth Is GAA Rounders is playing catch up in a seriously competitive market.  

New Clubs Rising

Over the last five years the numbers playing have increased largely. Nineteen counties have adopted the code in some form - Mens, Ladies, Mixed or Juvenile.  The championships are played on an All-Ireland club format which requires travel for clubs depending on what championship your seeded in Senior, Mixed or Junior. The travel issues are much more forgiving at Junior and Intermediate, where clubs are more likely to play teams based on geographically location. The increased number of entries at Junior level in particular means it's easier to structure the championship provincially, a welcomed feature from a sustainability point of view.  In 2014 there were only four senior mens teams, and the Intermediate championship did not exist at all. Currently, there are nine senior mens teams and seven intermediate, nine senior ladies and a further nine intermediate ladies teams playing.  The Junior ladies accounts for fifteen competing teams. In addition, the mixed code has ten senior, ten intermediate and sixteen junior teams.  

How does it differ from other GAA sports? The buzz of a championship game is no different in terms of on field excitement.  Senior graded games can be over in under one hour depending on the standards of the two teams. There’s also exists a healthy rivalry amongst clubs. The standard of fielding is to be commended and it's not uncommon to see an intercounty hurler or camogie player gracing the outfield for many a team. The games are end-to-end mens, ladies and mixed. Unless teams are scoring homeruns continuously, players rely on each other to build up the scores with tactical batting and clever running to bring home the points needed. Bases can be loaded, and a player can get pitched out on a last good ball. In the situation where two players are already out, it is the equivalent of missing an open goal - the tension palpable on numerous occasions. On any given Sunday there will be an upset; individuals can't win the game on their own.  Rounders relies on teamwork and split-second decisions are paramount to the success of the game.  

Clubs work their way up the ranks of the championships.  There have been four different winners in the mixed championship in the last five years.  The rules are simple, but they must be learned.  The skills on show can only be admired; placing a sliotar around nine defenders isn't as easy as it may appear. Batting is a skill in itself; to be able to place a size five sliotar at anything up to 50mph and still avoid someone catching it is an admirable feat.  Pitching is a mastercraft from twelve meters. Catching a sliotar overhead and covering forty meters of outfield space in seconds is difficult to say the least. Are there elite players? Of course there is! However, no one said it was going to be easy!


What gives rounders huge potential is that people are returning to the game after possibly being away from sporting activities, raising a family, work commitments, to name but a few. It is the most diverse game in Ireland, with codes like the mixed format becoming one of the most sought after to play in. It is unique, mothers and daughters, mothers and sons,  fathers and sons, or in last year's example, mother, father and son all celebrating in the winners enclosure on All-Ireland final weekend.  Fitting smoothly into every GAA club with minimal requirements to get it up and running.  

With livestreaming over the last few years it has never been more visible. The future is optimistic.  

Intermediate Ladies Championship
St Clares
Raheen Rounders
Ref: J Cheyne
Tymon Park, Dublin 12

Intermediate Mixed Championship
Emo Rounders
Limekiln Rounders GAA
Ref: D. Moore
Emo GAA, R32NV30

Intermediate Ladies Championship
Michael Glaveys
Carrickmacross Emmets
Ref: F. Lynch
Club Grounds

Inter Mixed Killmena GAA Club 0 V 0 Na Piarsaigh
Inter Mens Killmena GAA Club 0 V 0 Na Piarsaigh
Senior Mixed Erne Eagles 17 V 6 Kevins Hurling & Camogie Club.
Senior Ladies Erne Eagles 14 V 10 Kevins Hurling & Camogie Club.
Inter Ladies The Heath 13 V 5 Glynn Barntown
Senior Ladies Cuchulainn Rounders 9 V 10 Glynn Barntown
Senior Mens Limekiln Rounders GAA 0 V 0 Michael Glaveys
Senior Mixed Limekiln Rounders GAA 14 V 5 Michael Glaveys
Senior Mixed Cuchulainn Rounders 12 V 4 Glynn Barntown
Senior Mixed Breaffy GAA 10 V 4 Kevins Hurling & Camogie Club.
Senior Mens Cuchulainn Rounders 10 V 7 Glynn Barntown
Senior Ladies Breaffy GAA 21 V 7 Kevins Hurling & Camogie Club.