Top 5 most followed sports in Ireland

The Irish people share a resounding love for sports and have travelled every corner of the country and the globe supporting their own. Here are the top five most followed sports in Ireland.

Ireland is a nation that has a deep interest in sports, with professional and amateur organisations scattered across the Emerald Isle to such an extent that our participation in sports has become imprinted into our psyche.

The country’s love for sports stems from both domestic and international participation. The GAA is a fundamental pillar of our society.

At the same time, Irish people have a keen interest in and offer high levels of participation in other sports, such as soccer, rugby, tennis, and more.

As such, it isn’t easy to narrow down which sports are the most followed in Ireland, with such a huge following recorded in all main sports. But we have done our best to break it down with the top five most followed sports in Ireland, ranked.

5. Cycling – wandering the great outdoors inspired by the greats

Cycling is one of the most followed sports in Ireland.
Credit: Flickr / Sean Rowe

Kicking off our list of the top five most followed sports in Ireland is cycling, which, following findings released by the Teneo Sports and Sponsorship Index (TSSI) 2020, garnered five per cent of the vote for Irish people’s favourite sport.

Cycling Ireland is the governing body for cycling in Ireland, whose Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2024 was based on a “vision to develop an island enriched by cycling”.

Indeed, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Irish people took to their droves to the bike in the outdoors.

The Emerald Isle boasts wonderful scenery waiting to be explored by bike. Plus, keen cyclists can be inspired by the Irish greats, such as Nicholas Roche, Sean Roche, Sean Kelly, and Dan Martin.

4. Tennis – one of the most followed sports in Ireland

Tennis is a popular sport in Ireland.

Next on the list of the most followed sports in Ireland is tennis, which also claimed five per cent of the vote in the findings released by TSSI at the end of 2020.

Ireland has around 180 tennis clubs affiliated with Tennis Ireland, the national governing body of the sport. Both participation and following for the sport are on the up.

Tennis globally is one of the most popular sports, with the French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon, among other competitions, garnering interest around the world.

3. Soccer – the beautiful game in Ireland

Soccer is one of the most followed sports in Ireland.
Credit: Pixabay / SeppH

Next up on our list for the top five most followed sports in Ireland is soccer, which held the top spot from 2010 before being knocked off its perch in the most recent TSSI findings.

With over three billion followers worldwide, the game is the most followed in the world. So, it is no surprise the fever also infects Irish soil.

The national governing body of soccer in Ireland is the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), with two leagues operating in the country.

There is the Irish League, competed by teams in the north of the country, and the League of Ireland, a professional league mainly consisting of teams from the south of Ireland.

14% of people in Ireland regard soccer as their favourite sport and can command a huge following. The Aviva is not to be missed when the national team take to the capital.

The championship season now soon upon us. So, you should check out the championship odds across the soccer calendar to ensure your team comes out on top.

2. Rugby – taking the world by storm

Irish rugby has taken the world by storm.

One of the most followed sports in Ireland is undoubtedly rugby. Indeed, Ireland is now one of the best rugby teams in the world, ranking fourth in the world on the back of an impressive Triple Crown victory this Six Nations.

The TSSI findings found that 13% of people selected rugby as their number one sport. Meanwhile, Johnny Sexton, the Irish captain, was the second most admired sports star. Both owing to the sport’s growing influence and popularity.

There are approximately 95,000 rugby players in Ireland, with approximately 200 clubs across the four provinces. The governing body of the sport is the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), which is presiding over an increased following in the game.

1. Gaelic Games (GAA) – Irish sports rooted in Irish history

GAA is one of the most followed sports in Ireland.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gaelic Games, consisting of the indigenous Irish sports of Gaelic football, hurling, camogie, and handball, takes the award for the most followed sport in Ireland.

The TSSI findings recorded that 24% of people in Ireland regarded the GAA as their number one sport. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is the sports governing body, founded in 1884 and is now Ireland’s largest sporting body.

There are over 2,200 clubs across Ireland. Thus, there is barely a village, town, or city that you will pass through that will not have their club or county colours on show.

Find Your Dream Hotel in Ireland

On the hunt for the ultimate hotel for your Irish adventure? Explore a curated selection ranging from the charming heritage of boutique accommodations in Dublin's vibrant heart to the tranquil luxury of rural retreats and the captivating coastal vistas. Start your search below to find the perfect stay with our trusted hotel partner.

Get featured on Ireland Before You Die

Do you want to get your Irish business more online exposure? Especially to those interested in travelling the best places in Ireland? Then why not get a dedicated feature on Ireland Before You Die. Find out more here.

We cover articles relating to many activities. Some of our articles showcase gaming and gambling as activities. While we do not take money for bets or own any gambling venues, we feel it is important that our readers know the risks of such venues or sites that we may mention in our articles. Gambling involves risk. Please only gamble with funds that you can comfortably afford to lose. See our legal disclaimer for more info.

Sponsored Content Disclosure

This article is a sponsored feature, and all content and links contained within should be considered promotional in nature. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, links included in this article are to be understood as sponsored. If you are interested in promoting content on our website, kindly refer to our contact page to arrange the elevation of your brand’s visibility.

Related Posts


Ireland Before You Die is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Send this to a friend