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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Revisited: Croke Park

Croke Park

Back in August 2001 Town were playing Dublin City at Tolka Park, to the north of Dublin City centre on the main road out to the airport. This route took Extreme Groundhopping Jnr and myself past Croke Park (home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the GAA) which at the time was in the middle of one of several phases of a rebuilding programme originally begun in the early 1990’s. This particular phase involved the construction of the Hogand Stand which would complete the three-sided, and covered, seating area.

The fourth side, an uncovered terrace, is the famous Hill 16, which was built with rubble taken from the city following the Easter Rising in 1916. The terrace also bore witness to another tragic event in Anglo-Irish history which saw the Black & Tans (the nickname given to an auxiliary division of the British Army) fire indiscriminately into the crowd killing fourteen fans attending a Gaelic football match in 1920.

The Canal End Stand (pictured) and the Cusack Stand to its right dwarfed the surrounding area. Six years on and the finished stadium, with a total capacity of 82,500 making it the 5th largest in the EU, must look truly awesome. The stadium has featured quite often on the back pages of late. With Lansdowne Road currently being redeveloped, both the Irish RFU and the Irish FA needed a home for there respective teams in the interim. The possibility of either playing at Croke Park would have been unheard of just a few years ago, with the GAA formed originally to protect the future of indigenous sports and to oppose “imported” ones.

But various rules have been temporarily relaxed to allow the first ever Rugby Union International to be held there just last month, and the very first Football international followed earlier today as 72,500 watched the Republic of Ireland defeat Wales in a Euro 2008 qualifier. Fitting perhaps that the one-nil win for Steve Staunton’s side should be scored by Ireland, Stephen Ireland that is.

posted by chevblue at 9:20 pm






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extreme groundhopping

a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club

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IFK Goteborg
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Chicago Sting
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Chicago Sting
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Chicago Sting
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Chicago Vultures
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Milwaukee Bavarians
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Schwaben AC
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Tampa Bay Rowdies
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