About Croke Park
Croke Park from the hill, Dublin
Catch a Match at Croke Park
Croke Park serves as headquarters to the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), and it’s the fourth-largest stadium in all of Europe. Catching a match of Gaelic football or hurling at Croke Park is a quintessential Irish experience.
The traditional Gaelic games are not that well known outside of Ireland, but they enjoy a passionate and energetic following in country. In fact, Gaelic football is the most popular sport here. Needless to say, Gaelic sports are an intrinsic part of the Irish identity, and the GAA is their staunch defender.
Gaelic Football is something like a cross between association football and American football. Players move a spherical leather ball across the pitch by carrying, passing, bouncing and kicking it. Points are scored by passing the ball through the opponent’s goal.Â The other major GAA sport â€“ hurling â€“ features 30 men on the pitch using sticks to fling a dense, leather ball. This game bears a resemblance to lacrosse or field hockey and is recognised as the fastest field team game in the world.
Attending a game
Matches are held every weekend during the summer. When there’s not a match on, tours of the stadium are held twice daily. The tour includes a pitch-side walk, a visit to the dressing room, players’ lounge and tunnel. You’ll also ascend to the media centre at the top tier of the stands for a bird’s-eye view over the stadium.
You can also visit the GAA Museum under the Cusack Stand at the stadium. The museum traces the evolution of Gaelic games, from their early inception to their more recent cultural revival. It features publications, banners, jerseys, hurleys and trophies that the Irish teams have won over the years. The museum was refurbished in 2013 and has a few new features, including a Hall of Fame.
The museum provides all the background you’ll need on the games, but nothing compares to catching a match on Sunday afternoon. These are fast-moving sports, and they draw a big following, so expect roaring crowds.
Photos of Croke Park Stadium:
Croke Park Stadium from the Royal CanalÂ Photo credit: JP
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