Paper Authors and Title

Leanne Kealy (Atlantic Technological University), Luke O’Brien, “Iron and Calcium Intakes of Female Gaelic Football Players: A Cross Sectional Study”


Female Gaelic Football (FGF) is one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland, with over 1000 clubs both domestically and internationally (LGFA, 2023). Iron and calcium are essential dietary minerals needed to support health, increase performance of the athlete, and prevent injury. Despite the sport’s popularity, current research into micronutrient intakes of FGF players is limited, providing no details on the intake of these essential nutrients in athletes (Badenhorst et al., 2021).

This cross-sectional dietary intake study included 60 FGF players aged 18-40, recruited from clubs around Ireland. Participants completed an online survey including questions on weight, height, age, level of Gaelic football, and a validated food frequency questionnaire. Exclusion criteria included non-active Gaelic football players within the last year.

The mean iron and calcium intakes found were below dietary recommended values (9.90 ± 3.48mg/day, 854.30 ± 322.48mg/day vs 16mg/day, 1000mg/day (EFSA, 2019)), with 85% and 62% of participants consuming below the DRVs. Iron was found to be negatively correlated with Body mass index and a positive correlation was observed between energy intakes (Kcal) with both iron and calcium intakes (p < 0.05). No significant differences of mineral intakes between level of football, hours of training or age groups.

The findings show iron and calcium intakes of FGF players do not meet dietary requirements and highlights the need to increase recognition and importance of adequate iron and calcium intake in FGF players in preventing the risk of deficiencies and subsequent consequences to health and performance in this specific cohort.


  1. Badenhorst, C. E., Goto, K., O’Brien, W. J. and Sims, S. (2021) ‘Iron status in athletic females, a shift in perspective on an old paradigm’, Journal of Sports Sciences, 39(14), pp. 1565-1575.
  2. European Food Safety Authority, 2019. ‘Dietary Reference Values for the EU’ [Online] Available from: [Date accessed: 12/2/23]
  3. Ladies Gaelic Football Association, 2023. ‘History’ [Online] Available from: [Date accessed: 2/2/23].


Download and view Leanne Kealy’s slides.