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Gaelic Football in the Middle East

The first recorded game of Gaelic Football was played in Saudi Arabia in 1994, with the first Bahrain Games played the following year. From this point on Bahrain/Dahran, Dubai Celts and Abu Dhabi na Fianna played Gaelic Football throughout the 1990's on an ad hoc basis in both Dubai and Bahrain every year. 

Men's Football has adapted from 11-a-side football, to 7-a-side and now settled on 9-a-side with three substitutes. During the 2000's Gaelic Games continued to be played at the Gulf Gaelic Games in March in Dubai and the Bahrain Games in November as well as in Abu Dhabi. Over the years the Arabian Celts, Oryx na hEireann Qatar, Clann na hOman, Al Ain GAA and Naomh Alee Riyadh were formed and joined the league and in latter days, Kuwait Harps, Sharjah Wanderers LGFC and the first indigenous team in the Region, Oman GAA were all set up. This is a very encouraging development, and is a model on how to develop the GAA in the Region by introducing our Irish Games to non Nationals, and developing their skills and talents.

Dubai Celts and Abu Dhabi Na Fianna joined forces twice over the years to play against the Irish Defence Forces and the Dublin Senior Footballers. On two occasions a Middle East Select Team has played against the 2012 All Ireland winning Donegal team and the 2013 All Ireland winning Mayo team.

Ladies Gaelic Football in the Middle East

When the Middle East League first began the number of Ladies squads participating was greatly smaller than it is now. Over the past number of years, the game has grown considerably and we now have ten Clubs in the Region with Ladies squads. The league consists of three tiers; Senior, Intermediate and Junior to encourage participation from all levels and skills. There are now over 200 ladies players in the Middle East. Each year the competition intensifies and the skill levels & standards are improving with each tournament.   

It is testament to the dedication of players & clubs in the region and the buzz generated at the Middle Eastern tournaments that players are willing to travel around the region at their own expense to attend these tournaments. This year the establishment of the Middle East County Board has seen the development of a plan for the Development of Ladies Football in the region and over the next few years is committed to the continued growth and diversity of the game.

Ladies Rules

The Rules of Ladies Gaelic Football differ in some areas from the Men's Game.
The below information lays out the key areas of difference between the two games and is intended as a summary, rather than a comprehensive overview of the rules. Coaches, Referees & Players should ensure they read both the Official Rules of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association & the Official Competition Rules of the MEB to ensure that they are fully aware of the rules prior to any competition.
Any enquiries should be directed to ladiesofficer.middleeast@gaa.ie
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The key areas of difference to note are:

  1. The Tackle:
    • A player holding the ball into her body cannot be tackled.  Any attempt to do so will result in a free for her and her team.
    • When making a tackle to dispossess a player of the ball it must be timed when the player in possession is soloing, bouncing, kicking or passing the ball.
  2. Shouldering is not allowed.
  3. Deliberate Body Contact:
    • All deliberate body contact is forbidden but
      • Shadowing an opponent
      • Fielding
      • Blocking the delivery of a ball by an opponent shall be allowed.
  4. The ball may be passed from hand to hand
  5. Handpassing
    • When a player is hand-passing the ball, there must be a visible striking action with the passing hand.
    • A player may toss up the ball with one hand and play it off with the same hand.
The Rules of Ladies Football should be read in conjunction with the Middle East County Board Tournament Rules.


There are a wealth of information on skills, coaching, fitness & nutrition available on the LGFAwebsite.
Additionally there are a number of video tutorials available on the GAA website.

Coaching & Refereeing Qualifications

The MEB in conjunction with the Ladies Association is aiming to organise a number of coaching and refereeing workshops in the Region. If you are interested in taking any Coaching or Refereeing courses on Ladies Gaelic Football, please contact ladiesofficer.middleeast@gaa.ie

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Coaching Resources

We are working hard to get some coaching resources specific to Ladies Football to add onto the website, however, in the meantime, please see the GAA and LGFA website resources & publications section where there is a huge amount of information available on Coaching.


Player Profiles

Alana McConalogue


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