Although my main reason for visiting Dublin was to see the match at Lansdowne Road, I had also particularly been looking forward to seeing the home of Gaelic Football, Croke Park. In pictures that I had seen, it looked simply stunning, so it was certainly one to visit.
After arriving at the ground, I was somewhat disappointed to see that the exterior was pretty bare, being predominantly concrete and pedestrian ramps leading to the upper tiers. Although it was an impressive size, it certainly didn’t look very appealing, which considering what I had expected really was a let down.
Despite this, I carried on, and went into the GAA museum, which was quite good, charting the history of the GAA. It was fairly similar to the football one in Preston, although wasn’t quite as good really, not really being laid out as well, or having as many interesting objects in it, but it was good all the same. After going around there, I went on the tour, which was excellent, taking us from the dressing rooms, through to the stadium itself. Once inside, it is completely different to the outside, and as pictures have shown, it really is stunning, with the 4-tier, huge all-seated stands wrapping around three sides of the pitch, whilst at the one end (Hill 16) is an uncovered terrace. Compared to the rest of the ground it does look quite tiny, but it actually holds 12,500 so isn’t anywhere near as small as it looks! The rest of the tour took us around the executive and press suites as well as from pitch side to the very top of the stadium, before the long walk down to ground level (although some of it is done by the escalators that are inside the stands).
Overall, it really is a superb ground, and hopefully when the Irish football team move there during the Lansdowne redevelopment I can make my way over there again. If Hill 16 was redeveloped to look like the rest of the ground, then it could quite possibly be far and away the best ground in Europe, but until then, despite being as excellent as it is (and I feel kind of guilty at criticising terracing in a major ground) it unfortunately does look unfinished. That aside, I’m glad that I visited it, and the tour is a must for anyone who goes to Dublin.
Rear of the Hogan Stand
The Railway Line and Canal going under the ground
Rear of the Canal End
Rear of the Cusack Stand
Entrance to the GAA Museum
The Canal End
The Hogan Stand
The Cusack Stand
The Canal End