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The Croke Park debate

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Irish Sports News Discussion:     The Croke Park debate

Why don't the GAA allow soccer and other sports to be played at Croke Park?

That's the simplistic question asked often.

Asked often imo by folk who have no real involvement in any sport but the tv. And often asked by those who have not considered the consequences, asked by some who don't care about any consequence

After watching yesterday 80,000 folk turn up to watch two great hurling teams show off Irish Culture at its best. (And millions around the world tuning in to this unique spectacle)

An event that could be described as a world heritage event, certainly folk from around the world marvel at the skill and commitment and difference.

Here are a few thoughts that struck me about Irelands unique contribution to world sports culture. And why the GAA must hold on to this for Irelands sake.

The GAA is real Irish culture. GAA springs from the very people yet have an aspiration to always get better. There is no boundary or fence preventing anyone to get involved. In Cork city or Kilkenny (as any other city or town) there are children of Asian and African origin who can be seen with that exact same smile and internal pride as they walk around the towns with a Hurley or football (like miniature auld fellas).

Irish children get involved at a very young age and many get their confidence in life by their step-by-step involvement in the community through the GAA and in the same process get to know everyone. COMMUNITY!!

They become local celebrities, heroes, in a way that actually means something to all of the community who can say I was there; maybe even "I helped".

Not just at the top level either, far from it!
The Counties that hold the GAA close to their ethos have local newspapers that reports in depth throughout the season on every level of the GAA sports. It is nothing to see a half page photo of the junior teams and full reports of matches (I say nothing as a reference! can you imagine the pride of the kids and families and this builds slowly in them)
Events such as dances and raffles are held throughout the year to support their local teams.

So yesterday when the world witnessed these super fit amateur sports men turn up to decide who is the best in Ireland, they could be forgiven for thinking money was a factor!

They may have wondered how much can you earn as a top GAA star?

The reality, which would shock most! It is all about simply a love of Irish sport and County! These guys turned up only after a lifetime of commitment, turned up after a season of 5 nights a week training (all for the love of the sport and for no reward) and inter province matches to show who is the best. All the while holding down jobs to subsidise their involvement.

Why would the GAA be so stupid as to allow a sport like soccer to ruin all this- to cheapen all this?

For what? So a few folk who donít even support Irish soccer, (never been to see Cork City FC, Shamrock Rovers or any Irish side play) can watch the Irish national soccer team (full of overpaid stars, many of whom who earn more in a match than a GAA All star would at his full time job in a year) on TV, play over paid so called sports stars in the Irish holy Ground of culture and community.

Apart from the fact that Football Association of Ireland- F.A.I (soccer) had the money to build their own stadiums -but instead wasted most that was left after they had to PAY THE PLAYERS thousands each time to play for Ireland.

I remember well!! At the USA soccer world cup for example; there was talk of half million bonuses each if ultimate success was achieved. Just whose money were they giving away?? Just whose money were these soccer players demanding more share of?? THE FANS MONEY- so it was!! they were giving away and demanding a share of the kids future in the sport!


The GAA is real sport it is real Irish. it is about community and cares!

Soccer offers nothing in comparison to Irish life!

And it certainly cannot be described as uniquely Irish.

The GAA is special, VERY SPECIAL.

And very special things should be treated with unique respect and cherished not adapted to suit a blanket sport!

And I think all this! As someone who loves playing and watching local and wider Irish soccer, as someone who does get involved (for free) in local soccer, who does encourage kids to play the game.

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