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Sport in Ireland plays an important role in Irish society. The many sports played and followed in Ireland include Gaelic games (including Gaelic football, hurling and camogie), association football, horse racing, show jumping, greyhound racing, basketball, fishing, handball, motorsport, boxing, tennis, hockey, golf, rowing, cricket, and rugby union.
In terms of participation, association football (soccer) is the most popular team pursuit for males at 8.8% with Gaelic football attracting 3.4%. Personal exercise (at 13.4%) and running (8.9%) are the most popular individual male activities. Traditionally, team sports do not figure highly amongst females, with a greater percentage of post-school-age women choosing individual sports and fitness activities. As of 2018, additional funding and focus was afforded to females in sport, with a number of successes in women's international sporting competitions. Association football (soccer) is the most played team sport in Ireland. Gaelic football, hurling, golf, aerobics, cycling, swimming and billiards/snooker are the other sporting activities with the highest levels of playing participation in the Republic of Ireland.
In terms of support and attenance, Gaelic football accounted for 34% of total sports attendances at events in the Republic of Ireland in 2003, followed by hurling at 23%, association football (soccer) at 16% and rugby at 8%. In 2005, Initiative's ViewerTrack study measuring sports audiences showed that Gaelic football's highest-profile match, the All-Ireland Football Championship Final, was the most watched event of the nation's sporting year.
In terms of funding, of the €62 million allocated in the Irish government's 2017 Capital Sports Programme, approximately €25 million was allocated to hurling, football and other games overseen by the Gaelic Athletic Association, €7.7 million to soccer, €3.3 million to rugby, €2.8 million to tennis, golf €2.4 million, sailing and rowing €1.3 million each, boxing and athletics over €1 million each, swimming €0.5 million, with the remainder allocated among other sports and sporting groups.
As Northern Ireland is a constituent nation of the United Kingdom, it also sends a Northern Ireland Team to the Commonwealth Games. At the Olympic Games, a person from Northern Ireland can choose to represent either Ireland or Great Britain.
[Irish] Women are more likely to exercise to keep fit and healthy (56 per cent) than men (43 per cent). They just chose to devote their time to [..] individual pursuits [..] instead of organised team sports. Participation in team sports tends to fall off for women when they leave school