Imagine Rugby Blogs

Croke Park - Encompassing Ireland's passion

At the heart of Irish sport for over 100 years

Posted Sep 01, 2010 by Jeff Dawson

Croke Park

Ireland holds a magical place in my heart and I have no idea why. I have been to Ireland to play golf and loved it. I think I have some Irish ancestors. But they are my only links to the country.

Yet whenever I meet an Irish person, I love to talk sport with them and always wish the nation well in their sporting endeavours. And I’ve always pictured one of Ireland’s stadiums to be an incredible place that I hope to one-day visit.

Dublin’s Croke Park, to me, encompasses the country’s passion for sport. It appears a fearsome venue for the visiting nations to play at. It seems to be one of those grounds where Ireland are impenetrable. And I know they don’t host many games there nowadays as Lansdowne Road is the country’s national stadium, but Croke Park will forever remain the one Irish venue I want to watch live sport.

The old stadium has been at the heart of sporting life in Ireland for over 100 years and boasts a capacity of 82,300, larger than most stadiums around the world. It is the fourth largest in Europe behind Barcelona’s Camp Nou, Wembley in London and Italy’s San Siro.

It is the home of the Gaelic Games and the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association. It underwent a massive redevelopment project, starting with phase one in 1993 with the new Cusack Stand and culminating with a new Hill 16 in 2005. Completed in just over 12 years, the renovations caused no disruption to the All-Ireland Finals and all other events held here.

Croke Park was also were the national rugby and football teams played when Lansdowne Road was undergoing it’s own redevelopment recently. And it has held the world record for the largest attendance at a club rugby union match since May 2nd 2009 – the Heineken Cup semi-final tie in which Leinster beat Munster 25-6. The attendance was 82,208.

I guess my desire to see a game here comes from a desire to watch the indigenous sports of Ireland and as this is the home of such sports, it appears to make sense. And considering rugby is now welcomed into the stadium, I can only imagine what it’s like to be surrounded by 80,000 Irish people in one place. One word….incredible!

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