Gaelic football is the second most popular team sport in Ireland in terms of participation. However, very little research exists on the nutritional considerations for elite male Gaelic footballers. Gaelic football is an intermittent type field game played by two teams of fifteen players. Although amateurs, elite players may train and compete 4–5 times per week and may play for several teams. Research suggests that elite footballers are similar anthropometrically and in fitness to professional soccer players. Work-rate analysis shows that footballers experience longer durations of high-intensity (HI) activity (5–7s) and shorter rest durations than soccer players. Recent data suggests that half-forward/backs perform a greater amount of HI work during games than players in other positions. Fatigue is apparent between the first and second halves and the first and fourth quarters. The limited amount of nutritional studies conducted implies that footballers may be deficient in energy intake and may be at the lower end of recommended carbohydrate intakes to support training. A wide variety of sweat rates have been measured during training, demonstrating the importance of individual hydration strategies. Ergogenic aids such as creatine and caffeine may prove beneficial to performance, although data are extrapolated from other sports. Due to the lack of research in Gaelic football, further population specific studies are required. Future areas of research on the impact of nutrition on Gaelic football performance are examined. In particular, the creation of a test protocol mimicking the activity patterns and intensity of a Gaelic football game is warranted.
The author is with Metabolise Sports Nutrition, Listowel, Co. Kerry, Ireland.