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| The GAA has grown to become the largest and most popular organisation
in Ireland with some 600,000 members out of the island's 5 million people.
It saved the ancient game of hurling from extinction. Both it and Gaelic
football were standardised. This standardisation helped to spur the growth
of the modern games since they were now being organised on a structured
The GAA is the largest amateur sports association in Ireland. It has
more than 2,500 member clubs and runs about 500 grounds throughout the
country. The Gaelic Games of hurling and football are also the most
popular spectator sports in Ireland; 1,962,769 people attended GAA games
Thanks to the success of a policy of having at least one club in every
parish, clubs are evenly distributed throughout the country in both urban
and rural areas, and the organisation's reach is therefore considerable.
This huge presence means that the GAA has become a major player in the
sporting and cultural life of Ireland. The association is recognised as
a major generator of social capital thanks to its promotion of healthy
pastimes, volunteering, and community involvement.
The GAA also provided an all-Ireland structure in which people could
participate, both on a sporting and on an organisational level. This has
helped to entrench a sense of local identity. For example, the county identities
that have been fostered by over a century of local rivalries in the provincial
championships are so prominent in society that many people feel emotionally
attached to their county. Indeed, the GAA still adheres to the original
British-devised county system that no longer coincides with that used by
local government, and yet it is the GAA county boundaries that people most
In the GAA's structures (parish, county, province and national) it
created a conduit for national and communal loyalty, an achievement given
that the various elements owed their origins to a variety of sources: Catholicism
(the parishes), British law (the counties), and Irish history (the provinces
and the nation). Its achievement in popularising counties was particularly
marked. It made the counties seem a natural sense of local definition.
The traditional Irish counties were largely a creation of British law such
as County Londonderry (or County Derry, is it is referred to by the GAA),
and some owed their origins to ancient Irish regions such as County Tyrone.
An attempt in recent years to create North Dublin and South Dublin teams
was never implemented. Counties with a history of no success whatsoever
in the championships retain their county teams rather than merge with far
more successful neighbouring counties.
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HISTORY OF WORLD CUP WINNERS