The vast majority of people in Ireland speak English as their first language, but as you may be aware, this goes on hold once we hit the hurling or foortball field, which has a dialect that is unique to GAA alone.

It can be difficult for outsiders (and by outsiders we mean weird people who play croquet after their cucumber sandwhiches on a Sunday) to grasp what some of the natives are saying, but luckily we’ve created a crash course that’ll set them right in no time.


“Shtick Tight!”

This has to be said with the “h” pronounced very distinctly. Preferably, it is shouted at random intervals throughout the match to remind players to stay as close as possible to the person they are marking – making them feel as uncomfortable as possible. (the use of threatening and rude comments optional).

Also known as “mark up!”, or “let him know your there!”



“Watch Your House”

You see, when there is a big game on, everybody packs their ‘hang sangwiges and flasks of tae, and heads for the match. This leaves many peoples homes open to experiencing robbery, so naturally, this phrase is shouted from every chimney top in the parish on the morning of the big match.

Alternatively, it may be translated to  mean that while playing a GAA match you should get rid of the sliothar/ball ASAP because a stampede of players is about to attack you.



“On Your Bike”

Similar to the above, this means take the ball and run like you’re late for mass,  and do something impressive with it.



“Made a hames of it!”

Generally, this is shouted when the person who was supposed to shtick tight, mind their house and go on their bike doesn’t do any of those things, and basically messed up their chance for the “next one!” (“one”meaning “score”)



“Come on my son!”

This originates from some Latin sh*t in the Bible, and is used as a blessing or encouragement to the player you are rooting for.



“Run it off”

An invaluable, timeless piece of advice given to all players who become injured. They are then treated with magic spray (deep heat) or water on the wound, which is a miracle cure for any possible GAA injury.



“Give him timber”

Usually roared from the side lines by a huge man with a wooly hat when the score board is tight. A threatening phrase used to spur on a player to hit the ball, the player beside them, or anything, as hard as possible.

Along the same lines as “burry him/it”, the meaning of which can often depend on if the team is playing by the rules or not.



“It’s a game of two halves”

The thing about a GAA match is, it’s a game of two halves. The first half, and the second half. You can take from this what you wish – but it’s always a safe statement to make from the sideline.


“Dirty Balls”

Contrary to whatever your sick little mind has come up with, this phrase is used to address a player who attempts to take the ball when he obviously has no chance of getting it.

Eg. “He is some man for winning the dirty ball”



“Who’s on the break?!”

I could be wrong here, but from my observations, this means that the ball is flying through the air and the audience is concerned about who is going to get it.



“Ah feck ya ref”

Next time you go to a match, try and keep count of how many times you hear this phrase used. Sur if we can’t blame the referee, who can we blame?


Caoimhe Tully