Playing Rules


Below is a brief version of the playing rules of the Ladies Gaelic Football. The full version of the Playing Rules is contained in the Official Guide.

The Playing Rules are available in six different languages and all can be downloaded  in the Overseas Section. These are English, Irish, French, Spanish, Catalan and Estonian.

It’s aim is to try to ensure that all players and officials read and learn the rules. It is important that teachers and coaches ensure that all their players have a copy of this booklet. This will improve their understanding of the game and help them to accept the decisions of the officials without dissent.

This booklet emphasises the importance which the Association places on promoting a better understanding of our game.



Field of Play

1. Ladies Gaelic Football is played on a full size GAA pitch from Under 14 upwards. The pitch may be reduced in size for Under 13 and younger grades.

2. The dimensions of the field of play, scoring space and the duration of the game may be reduced by the organising committee for competitions less than 15 a side.


A player who may be pregnant, suffering from concussion etc. should not play Ladies Gaelic Football. However should she play, she shall do so entirely at her own risk and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association cannot be held responsible for any consequences that may arise.

Players Attire

1. The attire for playing Ladies Gaelic Football is jersey, shorts, socks and boots. Players cannot wear jewellery, ear rings, hair slides or other items that may cause injury whilst playing Ladies Gaelic Football.

2. All underage players must wear a mouth guard while playing ladies Gaelic Football unless advised otherwise, in writing, not to do so by a qualified Doctor or Dentist. From 1st January 2017, adult players must also wear a mouth guard.

3. Any player who requires corrective eyewear and wants to wear glasses to participate in Ladies Gaelic Football must wear glasses that use durable, unbreakable polycarbonate for the lens and have durable unbreakable frames as advised by an optometrist to play Gaelic games.

Duration of Games

1. The duration of Competitive Games from and including U14 upwards is 30 mins, per half – 1 hour.

2. An interval not exceeding 15 minutes shall be allowed at half time in normal time, and 5 minutes at half time in extra time.

3. 7 a Side & Blitz Competitions are exempted – the durationof same shall be determined by the Organising Committee.

4. The duration of games from U13 downwards may be reduced as determined by the Organising Committee.


1. T eams shall consist of 15 players a side unless deemed otherwise by the organising body.

2. In 15 a side competitions a team must have 11 players to start a game. They may finish with 11 or less.

3. Duplicate list of players giving full names and in the case of Inter County games the clubs to which the players belong must be given to the referee before game.

4. A size 4 football is used in all competitions from U-11 upwards. A smaller size 3 may be used in younger age groups.

5. Each player’s jersey number must correspond to that player’s name on the team list.

6. Where more than 15 names appear on team lists, the first 15 shall be taken as constituting the actual team, unless otherwise clearly indicated.

7. Clubs, Counties or Provinces must supply to the organising Committee or Council, team lists of their starting 15 players and their substitutes, where required for publication.

Subs & Extra Time

1. In Provincial and National Championships apart from up to the Quarter Finals of the National League, 5 subs areallowed during the normal course of the game. An additional 5 subs are allowed where there is Extra Time, which consists of 10mins each way is played. Where a Second Period of extra time is played an additional 5 subs can be used.

2. For games that are played at club level within the county, the number of subs can be determined by the County Board. However they cannot be less than 5.

3. A player sent off for a Red Card offence in Normal Time may be replaced by a Sub for Extra Time. A player sent off in the First Period of Extra Time may not be replaced by a Sub for the Second Period of Extra Time.

4. Where extra time is played in a game, a player sent to the sin bin for a first yellow card offence in normal time can be replaced by a substitute in extra time until she has served her ten minutes playing time in the sin bin. Should the sin binned player resume playing after her Sin Bin time has expired and having been replaced by a substitute for extra time, her team shall be deemed to have used a second substitute.

A player sent off for 2 yellow card offences in Normal Time can be replaced for Extra Time. A player sent off in the First Period of Extra Time may be replaced for the Second Period of Extra Time.

Blood Rule

1. A player who is bleeding, has blood on her body or playing attire, as a result of an injury sustained during play, shall, on the instructions of the referee, immediately leave the field of play to receive medical attention. She shall not return to the field of play until the bleeding has stopped, all blood cleaned off and the blood stained attire cleaned or replaced.

2. The injured area should be covered where possible. The injured player may be replaced by a Blood Substitute who shall notify the referee in writing, that she is a Blood Substitute.

3. The Blood Substitute shall NOT count as a substitute allowed under the normal substitution rules, if or when the injured player returns to the field, as a Direct Replacement for the player who replaced her.

4. Where the injured player returns to the field of play as a replacement for any other player, apart from the Blood Substitute that directly replaced her, her team shall be deemed to have used a Normal Substitution.

5. Where a Blood Substitution is sent off, her team shall substitute another player if they wish to bring the original player back onto the field of play. This shall NOT count as a Normal Substitution.

Where a team has used their Full compliment of Normal Substitutions in either Normal or Extra Time and a player suffers a blood injury, she may be replaced with a Blood Substitute.

7. When the player who had the Blood injury is ready to resume playing, she shall present herself to the referee during a stoppage in play. The referee should ensure that the bleeding has stopped, the attire is replaced or cleaned and that the Blood Substitute has left the field. Where the injured player resumes with a different numbered jersey, the referee should note the new number

Playing Rules

1. A player may pick the ball o. the ground with the toe, or with one or both hands, providing she is in standing position.

2. A player while on the ground may play the ball away from her, but cannot bring it into her possession.

3. The ball when caught may be: kicked, struck with the fist or open hand; hopped once with one or both hands or solo it toe to hand.

4. A ball that has not been caught may be bounced more than once in succession with one or both hands.

5. A player may change the ball from one hand to the other once, provided the original holding hand maintains contact with the ball until the change is completed.

6. A player may not kick the ball as an opponent is about to pick it up or take it into her possession.

7. The ball shall not be held longer than is necessary to move 4 steps. and kick it o. on the 5th step.

8. A player may not throw the ball.

9. There shall be no deliberate bodily contact.

10. Shouldering is not allowed.

11. Where a referee stops play to deal with an injured player(s), the team in possession of the ball at the time the referee stopped play, shall retain possession on the restart. Play is restarted with a kick ball to the team that had possession. However that team cannot score directly from the kick ball and all players must be 13m from the ball when play is resuming.

Where none of the teams had possession of the ball when the referee stopped play, play is resumed with a throw in between one player from both teams.

12. When a player is hand passing the ball, there must be a visible striking action with the passing hand.

13. Showing the Ball or Turning Twice with the ball is NOT a foul providing it is done within the 4 step rule.

14. A player may toss up the ball with one hand and play it off with the same hand.

15. Underage Intercounty players can only play in their own age group and one grade above it. (eg Under 14 player can play at U/14 and U/16, but not U/17 upwards. An Under 15 or 16 player cannot play at Junior, Intermediate or Senior level).

16. A.N. Other is not considered as a playing member and must not be included in a match programme or team list. Failure to do so will result in a fine at the discretion of the Committee or Council in charge of the fixture.

The Tackle

1. A player holding the ball into her body cannot be legally dispossessed. Any attempt to do so will result in a free for her and her team.

2.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. The ball must be knocked from the opponents hand by flicking it with the open hand or hands.

Advantage Rule

1. The Advantage Rule applies in Ladies Gaelic Football. However it is not a licence to let fouls go unpunished. Disciplinary action as warranted may be applied to the offender after playing the  Advantage Rule

2. The Advantage Rule should be applied when the player in possession of the ball is Free and Capable of taking the Advantage i.e. The Advantage has to be obvious.

3. If a foul occurs, the referee may allow play to continue for up to 5 seconds after the foul has been committed if s/he considers this to be to the advantage of the offended team. Where no advantage accrues the referee may award a free from where the original foul occurred.

Should the foul occur inside the 13 metre line apart from Penalty Kicks, the referee shall award the free from the 13 metre line opposite to where the foul occurred. Disciplinary action, if warranted, may be applied to the offender, who, in any event, should be advised by the referee at the next break in play, that a foul had been committed.

Commencement of Play

The referee commences play at the start of the game and that of the second half by blowing the whistle and throwing in the ball between two centre field players from each side. All other players shall be behind the 45m line and in their respective attacking and defending positions.

Ball in Play

1. The ball is in play once it has been thrown in or kicked after the referee has given the signal to start play.

2. The ball is in play until the whole ball has passed over the goal line, end line or side line, or the referee signals a stoppage in play.

3. If the ball strikes the referee, in general play, a throw in should be given. However if the team that had possession of the ball retained possession of it the referee should allow play to continue. If it strikes the referee from a free, the free shall be retaken.

4. A referee must extend time in each half for delays or extend time for a free to be taken. Where the referee indicates that it is the last kick of the half from a Free Kick, a score can only result when it is scored directly from the Free Kick or if the ball is deflected under or over the crossbar by a member of the defending team.

5. When a clashed ball crosses the end line it shall be regarded as a wide.

Ball out of Play

1. The ball is out of play when all of the ballpasses outside of the boundary lines of the field of  play.

2. Should the ball strike any of the flags it shall be deemed to be out of play. If the ball strikes the corner or sideline flags it is a line ball.


1. A score results when the ball is kicked, flicked, fisted or palmed in flight by any part of the body, except when thrown or carried over the line by the Attacking Side.

2. A goal is not allowed if the ball is fisted or palmed directly from the hands over the goal line.

3. Any player who falls or is knocked to the ground whilst in possession of the ball may fist or palm the ball away on the ground and may score by doing so.

4. Should a defender play the ball in any manner through her own scoring space it shall count as a score.

5. A ball carried or thrown over the goal line by an attacking player is not a goal.

6. When the ball hits the uprights or crossbar and rebounds back onto the field of play, it is still in play.

7. A point is allowed, where an Attacking Player is inside the “small square” and the ball goes over the bar, providing that the Attacking Player did not interfere with the defence and that the ball was out of the reach of all players.

8. Where a ball goes over the uprights, it is not a point – all of the ball must be between the uprights.

Sin Bin

A “Sin Bin” Rule shall apply in all grades of football from Under 14 upwards. Where a player commits a First Yellow Card Offence, she shall have her name taken and sent off the Field of Play for 10 minutes Playing Time (Sin Bin)in games of 1 Hour Duration or more.

She may remain with her substitute colleagues. In games of less than 30 minutes a half from Under 14 upwards she shall be sent to the Sin Bin for 5 minsPlaying Time. Where such a game goes into Extra Time that may exceed 1 hour duration, the Sin Bin time shall  be for 5 mins for ease of Implementation purposes.

She may resume playing after the 5 or 10 minutes Playing Time has elapsed and only with the consent of the referee or designated official.


A critical factor in deciding the difference between the three categories of fouls ie Ordinary Fouls, Yellow Card Offences and Red Card Offences is the question of Intent.

Red Card Offences

1. The following fouls shall be penalised by a free being given to the opposing team and the offending player being shown a red card and ordered off the field.

(a) Striking an opponent or colleague with hand, arm, elbow, head or knee.

(b) Kicking an opponent or colleague.

(c) Striking or interfering with a match official.

(d) Deliberate charging of an opponent, colleague or official.

(e) Deliberate High Tackle

(f) Spitting at an opponent or colleague

(g) Deliberate frontal charge or jumping at an opponent, colleague or official.

(h) Deliberate pulling of an opponent or colleagues hair

(i) Biting an opponent

(j) Stamping on an opponent or colleague.

(k) Using threatening or abusive language to a match official

(l) Using racist, sectarian or homophobic language or gestures towards an opponent, colleague, mentor, match official or spectator.

(m) Inciting colleagues or opponents to cause or take part in any type of affray while on the pitch

Yellow Card Offences – Sin Bin

2. The following fouls shall be penalised by a free being given to the opposing team and the  offending player’s name taken and shown a Yellow Card and sent Off  the Field of Play (Sin Bin) in grades from and including Under 14 upwards.

If she repeats any of these Cautionable Offences upon her resumption, she shall be shown a Second Yellow Card, followed by a Red Card and Sent Off the Field of Play for the duration of the game, which shall include Extra Time where played.

In any competition up to and including the Under 13 Grade, the Sin Bin Rule shall not apply.

In competitions up to and including Under 13the player shall be shown the Yellow Card and if she repeats another Cautionable Offence, she shall be shown a Second Yellow Card, followed by a Red Card and sent off the field of play for the duration of the game and any Extra Time that may be played.

(a) Deliberate Pulling Down, or tripping by hand or foot.

(b) Threatening or using abusive language or gestures towards an opponent or colleague.

(c) Blocking or Attempting to Block an opponent with the boot, as that player is about to kick the ball from her hands.

(d) A Sliding Tackle with the boot.

(e) Kicking the ball with intent as another player is about to pick it up

(f) Attempting to Strike or Kick an opponent.

(g) Bringing the fist in contact with the body of an opponent for the purpose of dispossessing her of the ball

(h) Dissenting with, or challenging the authority of a Match Official.

(i) Persistent fouling

(j) Feigning injury or diving to gain a free kick/penalty or to get an opponent cautioned or expelled from the game


3. The following fouls shall be penalised by a free being awarded to the opposing team. Repetition of these fouls shall constitute a Yellow Card offence with penalties as outlined at No 2 above.

(a) Pushing or holding an opponent.

(b) Bringing the hand in contact with the body of an opponent for the purpose of dispossessing her of the ball.

(c) Third player tackle, including body checking an opponent

(d) Impeding an opponent

(e) Diving on the ball as another player is picking it up.

(f) Deliberately delaying the Kick Out.

(g) Deliberately not moving back to allow a quick free to be taken

(h) Kicking the ball away when a free is awarded against the team in possession of the ball.

(i) Not releasing the ball to the opposing team when a free is awarded against the player in possession.

(j) The use of foul or improper language

(k) Interfering with a free taker by jumping up and down, waving or clapping hands, or any other  physical or verbal interference aimed at distracting the free taker. Should this occur when an Attacking Team is awarded a 13m free in front of their opponents goal, a penalty shall be awarded. A player may  hold her hands upright.

(l) Player in Possession of the ball leading with her elbow.

(m) Frontal pushing of a player.

(n) Chopping down on the arms of an opponent.

(o) Provoking or intimidating players by verbal or physical actions.

(p) Preventing an opponent getting up from the ground.

(q) Pulling an opponent’s jersey

4. Technical Fouls

(a) Overcarrying the ball

(b) Throwing the ball

(c) Lying on the ball.

(d) Picking the ball off the ground whilst not in a Standing Position.

(e) Bringing the ball into her possession whilst on the ground.

(f) Changing the ball from hand to hand more than once in succession.

(g) Hopping the ball more than once in succession after Catching it.

(h) Handpassing the ball without a Visible Striking Action.

(i) Handpassing the ball up and catching it before it touches the ground, or before being touched by another player

Free Kicks

1. The penalty for mostly all breaches of the rules is a Free kick. Exceptions – throw in given for retaliation, foul at the same time, quick free deliberately played against an opponent and continuous breach of rule for frees awarded.

2. Once the referee has blown for a free, the ball may be kicked, from the hand, or off the ground, from where indicated by the referee. However good practice allows latitude of up to 4 metres for the free to be taken quickly where it prevents or helps to overcome the pay to foul syndrome. If a free has been taken from the incorrect position, the free should be retaken from where indicated by the referee. Continued breach of this rule shall result in the free being disallowed and the ball thrown in between a player from each side and all other players shall be 13m from the throw in.

3. 45m Kicks may be taken from the hand or off the ground up to and including the Under 14 Grade.They must be taken off the ground in Under 15 Grade  upwards.

4. A player has the option of taking all free kicks from the hand or off the ground.

5. Penalty Kicks must be taken off the ground in all grades of competitions.

6. The ball shall be stationary, before a free kick, sideline kick and 45m kick is taken from the ground, failure to do so shall result in the Kick being retaken. However persistent breach of the Rule shall result in the Kick being disallowed and play resumed with a Throw in ball.

7. When a foul occurs, the referee may allow play to continue if he/she considers this to be an advantage to the offended team. Once the referee has allowed play to continue he/she may not subsequently award a free for that foul.

8. For the sake of continuity of play, all free kicks, except penalty kicks and free kicks on the 13m line, may be taken quickly. A referee may allow advantage of up to 4 metres for a quick free to be taken..

9. All opposing players must be 13m from the ball when a free kick is being taken.

10. Should a player taking a quick free deliberately play it against an opponent for the purpose of gaining an advantage, she shall lose her free and the ball shall be thrown up between a player from each side.

11. Should an opposing player stand nearer than 13m, when a freekick, side line kick, or 45m kick is being  taken or illegally charge a free, the opposing team shall be awarded a free kick from where she stood or illegally charged.

12. When a free kick has been given and the taker passes to a colleague who is less than 13m from the ball, the opposing team shall be awarded a free kick from where the recipient stood.

13. A free taker may not play the ball again until another player has touched it except where it rebounds off the crossbar or uprights. Should she do so, the referee shall award a free to the opposing team from where the foul occurred. Should the foul occur inside the 13m line the referee shall award the free on the 13m line opposite where the foul occurred.

14. If a foul is committed on a player after she has played the ball;

(a) A free shall be awarded from where the ball lands.

(b) Should she have scored the score shall be allowed.

(c) Should the ball cross the end line or land inside the 13m line, a free shall be awarded on the 13m line opposite where the ball landed or crossed the end line.

(d) Should the ball cross the side line, the free shall be awarded from the point where the ball crosses the line

(e) If the ball crossed the side line between the 13m line and the end line, the free shall be taken from the 13m line.

15. Should a player from each side foul at the same time, the referee shall throw the ball over the heads of one player from each side. All other players shall be 13m away.

16. Once the referee has awarded a free, and prior to it being taken, if a player on the team awarded the free fouls in retaliation, the free shall be disallowed, and play restarted by the referee, by throwing the ball over the heads of one player from each team where original foul occurred.

17. Should a player show dissent with the referee’s decision to award a free to the opposing team, the free kick shall be awarded from a point 13m more advantageous up to the 13m line. Should the original free be near the sideline, on or inside the 13m line, the referee shall place the ball on the 13m line, 13m nearer to the centre of the goal.


1. A penalty should be awarded when:

(a) Any foul is committed by the defence within the small parallelogram.

(b) A personal foul is committed by the defence on an attacking player within the large parallelogram.

(c) Where an Attacking player in the large parallelogram has her hands on the ball and the opponent kicks the ball, the referee shall award a penalty even though the boot may not have come in contact with the players hand.

2. Where a defending player charges illegally a 13m free kick directly in front of the goal, a penalty shall be awarded.

3. Penalties shall be taken from the ground at the centre point 11 metres directly in front of goal. All other players except the goalkeeper shall be outside the 20m line.

4. The goalkeeper may move along her goal line but cannot advance from the goal line until the ball has been kicked.

5. If the goalkeeper moves forward before the ball is kicked and the ball goes wide, she saves it or deflects the ball over the bar, the penalty should be retaken.

6. It is only the player wearing the distinctive jersey enjoys the rights and privileges of a goalkeeper.


1. Should an Attacking Player be within the small parallelogram before the ball enters it during play, the Defending Team shall be awarded a free out from within the small rectangle.

2. Should an Attacking Player legally enter the small parallelogram after the ball and the ball is cleared from the area but is returned before the Attacking Player has had time to leave the area, she shall be deemed not to have committed an offence provided she does not play the ball or interfere with the defence.

Kick Out

1. For the kick out from goal after a wide in all competitions the ball may be kicked from the hands or off the ground, from the thirteen metre line.  All players shall be at least thirteen metres from the ball until it is kicked

2. All players except the kicker and the goalkeeper shall be outside the 20m line when the kick out is being taken

3. The ball must travel at least 13m and cross the 20m Line, before being played by another player.

4. Where another player offends, a free shall be awarded to the opposing team on the 20m Line opposite, to where the foul occurred.

5. After a score, the kick out should be taken from the 20m line.

6. The player taking the kickout off the ground shall have the option of using a tee.


1. Referee shall tog out or wear a tracksuit.

2. A referee’s requirements are: Whistle, watch, coin, pencil, pen and notebook, red and yellow cards, pencil sharpener.

3. A referee must:

(a) Arrive at the pitch on time

(b) Have a thorough knowledge of the rules of Ladies Gaelic Football

(c) Be physically and mentally fit.

(d) Be fair and courageous

(e) Communicate decisions clearly

(f) Have regular observation with umpires and lines-persons

(g) Use common sense

4. The duties and the powers of a referee in addition to those outlined in the playing rules shall be;

(a) To protect players who want to play the game in accordance with the rules and to penalize those who infringe them.

(b) Sign and give a copy of team lists to the opposing team before the commencement of the game.

Report any failure regarding receipt of lists to the committee in charge.

(c) See that players are properly attired and report on the same.

(d) Obtain, if requested by the captain or official, the signature, full address and club of any player whose name appears on the official list and that of any substitute taking part.

(e) Allow or disallow scores.

(f) Consult with umpires and linesperson when occasion demands and replace any of them should they withdraw before the end of the game.

(g) Deal with intrusions of unauthorised persons on the playing pitch.

(h) Take the names of any players or officials interfering during the course of the game.

(i) The referee shall decide whether the pitch is suitable for play, to terminate a game because of darkness or forany other reason.

(j) The referee cannot make an award of a game, but may give the final score if requested.

(k) Add on additional time for substitutions to be made and time taken to caution a player receiving a yellow or red card.

5. When a player, players or team refuse to continue with  a game the referee should give the captain of the team approximately three minutes to decide their final intentions.

6. If the team still refuses to play, any player willing to continue should give her name to the referee.

7. Report the names of any players who get injured and the nature of the injury.

8. The referee shall take serious regard of personal fouls and in the case of rough or dangerous play shall caution or send off the player depending on the seriousness of the offence.

9. The referee shall have the power to overrule a linesperson or umpire.

10. In the event of a team failing to participate in a game the referee shall count to ensure that the team present has 11 players and obtain a Team list

11. After the game the referee should send on a detailed report to the Committee in charge on all aspects of the game.

Umpires & Linesperson

1. The umpire and linesperson should work with the referee as a team and bring to the attention of the referee any incidents that the referee may not have seen.

The umpires and linespersons have authority to take corrective action on any incidents that may occur and admonish any players who commit any off-the-ball offences.