Sport in Belfast

Sport in Belfast

Watching and playing sports is an important part of culture in Belfast, Northern Ireland where almost six out of ten (59%) of the adult population regularly participate in one or more sports. [cite web | title = Chapter Twelve: Sport and Recreation as an activity | work = The Organisation of Sport & Recreation in the UK | publisher = Central Council of Physical Recreation | date = 2005 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-18] Belfast has several notable sports teams playing a diverse variety of sports including football, rugby, traditional Irish Gaelic games, and North American sports like American football and ice hockey. The Belfast Marathon is run annually on May Day, and attracted 14,300 participants in 2007.cite web | title = Mutai wins Belfast Marathon | publisher = Belfast City Council | date = 2007-05-07 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-18]


The Northern Ireland national football team, currently ranked 33rd in the FIFA World Rankings [cite web | title = FIFA/Coca Cola World Rankings | publisher = FIFA | date = 2007-04 | url =,2548,All-Apr-2007,00.html | accessdate = 2007-05-18] and 1st in the FIFA rankings per capita [cite web | title = List of Teams with Per Capita Factor | work = FIFA World Rankings | date = 2007-04-26 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-18] , play their home matches in Windsor Park. Plans have been made to build a new stadium for Northern Ireland at the former Maze Prizon, to the southwest, near Lisburn. This would accommodate football, rugby and Gaelic Athletic Association. Other sites including the Titanic Quarter, the North Foreshore, Ormeau Park and the site of the former Maysfield Leisure Centre [cite web | title = Northern Ireland's New Stadium | publisher = Stadium 4 Belfast | date = 2005 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-18] have so far been dismissed by the government. , these proposals have not proved popular with some Loyalist politicians. [cite news | last = Gordon | first = Gareth | title = Maze plan 'first political football' | work = BBC News Northern Ireland | publisher = BBC | date = 2007-04-06 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-18]

Belfast was the hometown of the renowned Northern Irish footballer, George Best who died in November 2005. On the day he was buried in the city, 100,000 people lined the route from his home on the Cregagh Road to Roselawn cemetery. [cite news | last = McCann | first = Nuala | title = A city mourns for the Belfast Boy | work = BBC News Northern Ireland | publisher = BBC | date = 2005-12-03 | url = | accessdate = 2005-05-18] Since his death the City Airport has been named after him and a trust has been set up to fund a memorial to him in the city centre. [cite web | title = George Best Memorial Trust | publisher = George Best Trust | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-18]

The 2007-08 Irish League football champions Linfield are also based at Windsor Park, in the south of the city. Other Premiership football teams are Glentoran based in east Belfast, Cliftonville and Crusaders in north Belfast. There is one Belfast team in the IFA Championship - Donegal Celtic in west Belfast - and four in the IFA Interim Intermediate League: Brantwood, Dundela, PSNI and Queen's University.

Gaelic football and hurling

Gaelic football is the most popular spectator sport in the island of Ireland. [cite web | url = | title = Information and Statistics | work = GAA Attendance Figures | publisher = Gaelic Athletic Association Gaelic Athletic Association | accessdate=2006-05-18] Casement Park, in West Belfast has a capacity of 32,000 which makes it the second largest Gaelic Athletic Association ground in Ulster. It was named after Sir Roger Casement, one of the "revolutionaries" of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Queens University and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown compete in the Sigerson Cup. This is top division championship of university Gaelic football in Ireland. They also compete in the Fitzgibbon Cup, which is the Hurling university championship equivalent.

Rugby Union

2005–06 Celtic League champions and former European Rugby Union champions Ulster play at Ravenhill in South Belfast. The AIB League is the National League system for the 48 senior rugby union clubs in Ireland. Belfast clubs include Belfast Harlequins and Malone who play in the AIB League Division 2 and Queens University who play in the AIB League Division 3. The Ulster Senior League and the Ulster Senior Cup are also competitions entered by senior rugby clubs in Ulster.


Belfast boasts Ireland's premier cricket venue at Stormont, Belfast. The Ireland cricket team plays many of its home games at this venue, which, in 2006, also hosted the first ever one-day international (ODI) between Ireland and England. In 2007, Ireland, India and South Africa played a triangular series of one-day internationals at Stormont, and in 2008 the qualifying tournament for the ICC World Twenty20 was held there.

At club level, Belfast has seven senior teams: Instonians (Shaw's Bridge, south Belfast) and Civil Service North (Stormont, east Belfast) are in Section 1 of the Northern Cricket Union League; CIYMS (Circular Road, east Belfast), Cooke Collegians (Shaw's Bridge) and Woodvale (Ballygomartin Road, west Belfast) are in Section 2; and Cregagh (Gibson Park, south-east Belfast) and Police Service of Northern Ireland (Newforge Lane, south Belfast) are in Section 4.


Hockey is a major participatory sport in Belfast, for both men and women. The top men's teams are Annadale (which now plays its home matches outside the city, at Carryduff), Instonians, who are currently in the Premier Division of the Ulster league. The main women's teams are Pegasus, Belfast Harlequins, Victorians and Knock.

Ice hockey

. The game was brought to Belfast by Canadian businessman Bob Zeller in 2000.cite web | title = Belfast Giants History | publisher = Coors Belfast Giants | date = 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-18] The team won the British Ice Hockey Superleague Championship in 2002 and were crowned the Elite League Champion in 2006. [cite news | title = Giants clinch Elite League title | work = BBC Sport: Ice Hockey | date = 2006-03-05 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-18] Ex-NHL star Theo Fleury plays for the team and was named the most valuable player in the league last year. Home matches are played at the Odyssey Arena and watched by up to 7000 fans.

Other sports

* Double world champion Alex "Hurricane" Higgins and Joe Swail are both professional snooker players from Belfast. The city also runs its own District Snooker League.
* The Belfast Bulls and Belfast Trojans American football teams represent Belfast in the IAFL, competing for the Shamrock Bowl.
* Belfast has produced several world champion boxers including Wayne McCullough and Rinty Monaghan. The Ultimate Fighting Championship recently announced that UFC 72 will take place at Odyssey Arena on June 16, 2007.
* The Belfast Marathon is run annually on May Day, attracting 14,300 participants in 2007.
* In 2013 Belfast will hold the World Police and Fire Games.
*Dave Finlay, a professional wrestler, is from Belfast.

ee also

*Sport in the United Kingdom
*Sport in Ireland


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