Rugby, soccer and hockey are popular team sports in Ireland and have been played in Ireland since the nineteenth century. Cricket was introduced to the country even earlier, during the 1700s.
But in 1902 the GAA passed Rule 27 which stated that “any member of the association who plays or encourages in any way rugby, football (soccer), hockey or any imported game which is calculated or injuriously affect our national pastimes, is suspended from the association. Known as The Ban, this rule impacted on public participation in what were referred to as garrison sports, a term that implied that these games were played primarily by members of the British military and the police forces stationed in Ireland. It was rescinded by the GAA Congress in 1971.
However in spite of this hostility, rugby and especially soccer enjoyed a strong loyal following in southern Ireland in the cities as well amongst the Protestant minority population helped by the popularity of English and Scottish soccer which only increased after the arrival of television and children’s British soccer magazines in the 1960s.