WHAT THE HECK ARE HURLING and GAELIC FOOTBALL, and why should my child play?

They are the official games of Ireland.  They are also a couple of the most skillful, fast paced, and safest games available for young athletes anywhere.  BOTH are played on a soccer-style field with traditional goals flanked by tall posts.  In each game, a ball is advanced and 3 points awarded for putting it past a keeper while 1 point is earned for splitting the uprights.  Shoulder to shoulder contact is allowed for U10 and above.

HURLINGis a 3000 year old sport which has changed very little over the years.  A flat, wooden stic

The fastest games on grass

k called a “hurley” is used to move a baseball-sized ball called a “sliothar” toward the goal by a combination of lifts or strikes from the stick, hand, or foot.  It shares traits of ice/field hockey and lacrosse.  Players wear a helmet (similar to hockey, but not as bulky) and some choose to wear gloves or shin guards.

GAELIC FOOTBALL is very similar to a mix of soccer and basketball.  All soccer rules apply but the football, very much like the love child of a soccer and volleyball can be picked up and run with, passed from the hand, and bounced off the ground or the foot.

Maine Gaelic Sports Alliance is a fully certified program in the Gaelic Athletics Association (www.gaa.ie) and part of the Northeast Minor Board.  All coaches are Foundation level or higher and have been CORI background checked.  All teams are co-ed through U14 and games/drills are modified for age-appropriateness as defined by the GAA’s “Go Games’ curriculum.

Our Rec football sessions start in later April through the end of May and our summer season is Thursday nights from 5:30 to 7:30pm in South Portland.  Please join us.

Like soccer but also want to use your hands


We will be offering the choice to register via email or in-person starting on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th.  We will be marching in the Portland parade and will have forms available at the Maine State Pier at the end of the route.

  • General size measurements for jerseys, hurley, and helmet.  For best hurley sizing, measure the inches from foot to mid-hip.  We will custom fit these at in-person registration and at the beginning of the season in May.
  • Cash or check for program dues.  We are working on a PayPal option as well.  Please do NOT mail cash.
  • Insurance plan information, including group number.  PRIMARY MEDICAL INSURANCE IS REQUIRED FOR REGISTRATION.
  • Digital copies of their birth certificate(s).  A scanned or photo is fine as long as we can read the info.*
  • A head shot photo taken within the  12 months*

*These two items are required for registration in the GAA database with the photo requiring renewal every 2 years.  With this, they will be eligible for GAA competition and the secondary insurance coverage that is mandatory for players and coaches.



MGSA and the North American GAA announce partnership with local recreation departments


Westbrook and South Portland Rec Departments to offer Gaelic Football in a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Gaelic Athletics Association

It’s not a new sport, exactly, but an ancient one that has been played for generations in the counties of Ireland. Gaelic football has now made its way to the shores of Maine, thanks to a unique arrangement between these two communities and the Maine Gaelic Sports Alliance (gaelicsportsme.com).

Gaelic football has been described as a combination of soccer and rugby and is fun, fast and easy to learn. Played on a “pitch” larger than a soccer field, Gaelic football teams can field up to 13 players each side with the object of scoring a goal, much like soccer, for 3 points, or scoring an over, much like an extra point in American football, for 1 point.

“Our goal is to bring these ancient Irish sports to life here in Maine,” says James Tierney, President of the MGSA. “It’s unique and fun and kids of all skill levels can pick it up quickly, enjoying a sport most have never tried before, no matter their heritage.”


In a first-of-its-kind agreement in the US, the Gaelic Athletics Association, based in Dublin, Ireland, and their North American county board (www.northamericangaa.com) have agreed to provide footballs and teaching materials for each community while MGSA provides coaching and logistical support.  Westbrook’s Greg Post and South Portland’s Sabrina Best have committed to a safe, fun, and affordable program designed to make Gaelic football accessible  to their populations.

Please call (207)767-4834 FMI.


All are welcome

  Though the ground is white and frozen thereunder, we have begun schedule our winter/spring education programs.  It all kicks off with 2 clinics on February 9th in South Portland and Westbrook.

People can bring their kids and have them go through stations that demonstrate the skills of hurling and Gaelic football in a relaxed, fun environment.  Check out some videos, chat with players and coaches, and see what these amazing sports are all about.
Look for MGSA programs in your schools in the months of February and March and check out our float in the Portland St. Patrick’s Day parade March 17th.

Flatbread Fundraiser for Maine Gaelic Sports Alliance – September, 4th

Join us at Flatbread Pizza on the waterfront in Portland, ME on September 4th as we raise money for MGSA’s ongoing efforts.

One of the primary goals is to raise money for our trip to the 2013 Continental Youth Championships in Philadelphia, PA.

We will be offering curbside pickup, holding a silent auction, and consuming tons of the best pizza in Portland.



Learn more on our Facebook Page!

Maine Irish Sports Blitz – Saturday, July 28

Join players from throughout New England to learn all about Hurling and Gaelic Football!

Where: Wainwright Sports Complex – South Portland

When: 12:00 – 5:00PM  (Cookout to follow)

MGSA is hosting teams from 3 other clubs and will be featuring:

  • A Clinic from 12 – 1 to learn the basics of the sports.
  • Hurling and Gaelic Football Matches from 1 – 5 (Don’t worry if it’s your first time, you WILL play)
  • Skills Competitions with cool prizes
  • A cookout in the evening at Crescent Beach

Come join us and give Gaelic Sports a try.

We have all of the equipment you will need.  We do recommend cleats and a mouthguard.

Hope to see you there.

Practice Update and Blitz Information

Practice has been moved for tonight!  Wednesday, June 13

We have secured the South Portland Community Center Gym for a 5:15 to 6:30 practice. This will be FOOTBALL ONLY, so leave the hurls and helmets at home.

Gaelic Sports Blitz in Dorchester, MA

Saturday, June 16

IF YOU ARE GOING TO DORCHESTER SATURDAY, and this will be a REALLY fun event, a reminder that we are meeting at the Park N Ride lot at the Turnpike Jetport Exit at 7:45 and leaving promptly at 8.

Hope to see you there!

2012 Registration

Below are the 2012 Registration forms.

 The “MGSA 2012” form is the registration.  Please make a note of the membership options.  1st child is $75 with $15 reduction for each subsequent player in the same family.  Supporter memberships (new for 2012) are avaialable for $60 and include an MGSA O’Neills polo shirt.

The Order form is perhaps the most difficult one.  There is some jersey sizing and my one recommendation is to choose 1 size up from their age range, so if you have a 12 or 13 year old, put down 15/16.

Each child gets a jersey and a hurl (we’ll need to measure for size), so bring this with you on the 1st day they participate so we can get them kitted up properly.  This year, we are also providing team shorts thanks to our primary sponsor, Tex-Tech Industries.


Helmets are available to purchase for $80 or rent for $20.  Returning members can exchange their Cooper for an O’Neills MGSA helmet for a $20 exchange fee.

Some highlights for the upcoming season:

Travel dates of June 16th at St Brendans (Dorchester, MA) for hurling and football.  July 14th and 15th (optional overnight) to Canton, MA to play the Irish Youth Sports League of Boston in hurling and football, and August 11th to Springfield, MA for football.  We are planning on renting vans to lower costs and wear and tear on personal vehicles.

Home dates are scheduled for July 27th and 28th hosting St. Brendans and Worcester as well as a TBA June date against ISYL.  We will also have 1 optional weekend scrimmage per month.

As always, we will play before the Sea Dogs game on Irish Night and have been invited to do a demo at the Maine Celtic Celebration in Belfast July 20th through the 22nd.

We welcome back coaches John Hartley, Doug McIntyre, and Rob Hatch.  New for 2012 is coach Gracie Johnston.  Welcome, Gracie.


  • We are expecting our U14 players back in force this year.  This was the group that played their hearts out as U12’s at the CYC’s last year.  With another year under their belts, they figure to be a force to reckon with in the Boston region in 2012.
  • U8 and U10 will have a separate “Go Games” curriculum that focuses on skills development and age-appropriate games.
  • We expect a good increase in the U8, U10, and U16 groups this year and we hope you will strongly consider MGSA as program you return to every year. Gaelic games are fun, fast-paced, and community oriented.


Portland Hurling Club is hosting Worcester this Saturday @ 3pm at Wainwright Sports Complex in South Portland.  This is a great way to check out the game of Hurling played by adults in a regional championships series.


Please feel free to download the forms below and bring completed forms to our first practice.

Email us at MaineGSA@gmail.com with any questions.

MGSA Code of Conduct

MGSA 2012 form



Drop In Registration – Saturday, May 12 – 2:00 – 4:00PM

We are ready to begin registration for the summer 2012 MGSA season.  Our 1st in-person registration is  Saturday May 12th from 2-4 PM at the South Portland Community Center on Nelson Rd.  The registration takes about 10 minutes (hopefully less) to complete and it is a good chance to meet some of the coaches and players.  MGSA players will train to compete in Gaelic Football AND Hurling.  Diviisions are co-ed through U16.  U8 players (5-7 year olds) play a “Go Games” format based on the GAA Fun-Do program.
There are 2 forms to fill out:
1.  Player registration form.  You can put up to 3 family members on 1 form.
2.  Code of conduct sign off.  This is a simple declaration that players, guardians, and coaches share the same philosophy about conduct required to participate in Gaelic games for MGSA.
At the registration, you can:
  • Register family members.  Cost for ALL 2012 events is $75 for 1st child with a $15 per child discpunt for members of the same family.   Maximum cost/family is $200.  Paid dues include an O’Neills game jersey and a Scullion hurl.
  • Rent a helmet.  Cost is $20 for the season.
  • Exchange a Cooper hurling helmet for an O’Neills MGSA helmet for $20(1st priority to returning MGSA players)
  • Purchase a helmet for $80.   (2 weeks for delivery if  not in stock) and/or an addl hurley for $25.
  • NEW for 2012   Get a Supporter Membership.  $60 includes a HURL sticker and an O’Neills MGSA polo shirt.
  • 1st practice Wednesday 5/23 5:00 to 6:45 at Wainwright Sports Complex.  All practices at this time unless otherwise specified.
  • St. Brendan’s football and hurling field day June 16th in Dorchester, MA  http://stbrendansyouthgac.com/
  • TBD date to host Boston Irish Sports Youth League (ISYL) in June  http://www.isylboston.org/
  • TBD weekend trip to Boston venues (Irish Cultural Center in Canton, MA for matches with multiple Boston clubs)  July 7+8 and/or July 21+22
  • MGSA hosts Concord, Worcester, and St. Brendans on July 27th and 28th for a “blitz” event
  • Irish Night pre-game demo (free tix for players) at the Portland Sea Dogs Friday August 3rd.
  • Springfield (MA) football blitz August 11th  http://www.westernmassgaa.com/
If you cannot make the drop-in, we can email you the forms.  Checks are made out to “MGSA”.

Introduction to Gaelic Sports Clinic – South Portland

Today marks the opening of online and in-person registration for our 1st partner program with South Portland Recreation.

Current players are not expected to register unless they have the time (I know school and other sports are in the forefront right now).   We ask only that you let your friends and family know about the option.  If you have a new family member coming into the program, it would be a great starting point to learn the fundamental skills involved in both hurling and football and to get a few games in before the season starts.  The cost is $25 for SoPo residents and $35 for non-residents.  We’ll provide helmets, footballs and hurls.

Session 1:   Intro to Hurling and Football
Session 2:  Football
Session 3: Hurling
Session 4: Scrimmages

The MGSA season starts on May 23rd.  We have a lot of time for Gaelic games this summer, so don’t worry about conflicts with other sports.  We know we’ll see you on the pitch soon.

MGSA registration should be online in about a week.  We’ll be sending you hard copies of the forms as well.  Prices have fallen this year due to success in fundraising, so we hope to see as many players out there as possible.

Proud member of the Gaelic Athletics Association, Northeast Minor Board. Spring Rec football league and summer hurling and football for kids age 4-16.