Playing Rules & Specifications

Rules and Specification Section Image

Playing Rules

The Playing Rules of Hurling and Football are both contained in the Official Guide 2010, Part 2.

The Playing Rules are divided into Fair Play and Foul Play (See diagram above).

Fair Play deals with The Play, Set Play and The Scores, while Foul Play is concerned with Technical Fouls, Aggressive Fouls and Dissent.


The rules of specification outline certain factors relating to the playing set up of Gaelic Games.

They specify limitations relating to:

  1. The Field of Play
  2. The Players
  3. Time
  4. Equipment


Pitch Dimensions

The field of play for Gaelic Games is rectangular and its dimensions are as follows:

  • Length - 130m minimum to 145m maximum
  • Width - 80m minimum to 90m maximum

Pitch Markings

At distances of 13m, 20m, 45m (football) and 65m (hurling), lines are marked parallel to the end lines. The intersection of these lines and the end lines with the sidelines are marked with flags.

The midline of the field is marked parallel to the end lines and has a maximum length of 10m (Note: the dimensions may be reduced by local bye-laws for U15 or younger grades).

Goalmouth and Scoring Space

The scoring space is marked in the centre of each end line by two goalposts 6.5m apart, with a height of not less than 7m above ground level. A cross bar is fixed to the goal posts at a height of 2.5m above the ground (Note: goalpost dimensions may be reduced by local bye-laws for U15 or younger grades).

Two rectangles of the following dimensions are formed in front of each set of goalposts.
A) Small Rectangle
14m long by 4.5m wide. The distance from the inside of each goalpost to the beginning of each line of width is 3.75m

B) Large Rectangle
19m long by 13m wide. The distance from the inside of each goalpost to the beginning of each line of width is 6.25m

Substitution Zone and Semi Circle Arc

A semi circle arc of 13m radius, centred on the mid-spot of the 20m line, is marked outside of each 20m line.
An area of the sideline extending 5m on either side of the centre line denotes the substitution zone. All substitutions and temporary replacements occur through this zone, when given permission by the referee (Note: an injured player may leave the field at the nearest point to him)


A team consists of 15 players. These are made up of one goalkeeper, six defenders, two midfielders and six attackers. (Note: the positional line up is as below, but no player is restricted in his movement around the field). The teams line up as follows:

A team may commence a game with 13 players, but must have fielded 15 players (inclusive of any players ordered off or retired injured) by the start of the second half. A maximum of five substitutes are allowed. A substitution is not allowed in the case of a player ordered off (Note: in the case of extra time, an additional three substitutes are allowed. A player ordered off, in any circumstances, during normal time may not play in extra-time, but may be replaced).

Substitutions/temporary replacements may only be made during a break in play.  Before all official games, the referee must be given a list of players. The first 15 names on the list indicate those players constituting the actual team, unless otherwise clearly indicated.


The playing time consists of two periods of 30 minutes each, but time is added on in each period for incidental or deliberate delays.

In Senior Inter-county Championship and National League games, the playing time consists of two periods of 35 minutes each.

Playing time may be reduced for U15 or younger grades.

A team must take the field not later than 10 minutes before the appointed starting time for Senior Inter-county Championship and other selected games. In all other cases, a team must take the field not later than 5 minutes before the appointed starting time.


In all games the goalkeeper must wear a jersey which is distinctive from his/her own team's and from the opposing team's colours.County and Club teams wear their registered distinctive colours in competition. Where there is a similarity of colours the teams wear registered alternative colours or colours authorised or directed by the committee in charge.

Game Equipment
The basic equipment used to play hurling is a hurley, a hurling ball (sliotar) and a helmet, while to play football, a Gaelic football is required.

The hurling ball, or sliotar, is traditionally made using a leather cover surrounding an inner core. A rib extends from the surface as indicated on the diagram.


The circumference of the sliotar must be 23 - 25cm, while its weight (mass) must be between 110 and 120 grams. The rib must not exceed 2.4mm and not be less than 2.2mm. (Note: reduced dimensions for sliotars are recommended for U15 and younger grades)

The hurley is traditionally made from the wood of the ash tree. It's shape has evolved over the years and variations in shape can be distinguished for certain counties and playing areas.

The dominant hand holds the hurley at the top of the handle. The face of the hurley is called the bas, and is the area used to strike the ball. The bas is a flat area that is slightly angled as the width of the hurely at the heel is thicker than that of the toe. The heel is used to provide loft for striking the ball on the ground. The toe is less thick than the heel and more rounded, to aid in rising the ball - either through the jab lift or roll lift.

On many hurleys there is a band across the bas. This provides strength to the hurley. Many players prefer not to have a band. In camogie, the band is taped over.

At its widest point, the bas of the hurley must not be more than 13cm.


A helmet, with a face guard, is worn playing hurling to protect the head and  face. A referee must not allow a hurling helmet be worn in a football game.

As of January 1 2010, the use of helmets, with full facial protection is compulsory in all age-grade competitions.

hurling helmet

A Gaelic football is round in shape with a leather panelled surface. The football must not weigh less than 450 grams and not more than 480 grams. It must have a circumference of not less than 68cm and not more than 70cm. (Note: reduced dimensions are recommended for U15 and younger grades)

gaelic football

Subpages (2): Gaelic Football Hurling