Croke Park

From Academic Kids

Croke Park (Irish: Páirc an Chrócaigh) in Dublin, Ireland is the principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ireland's major sporting organisation. It is currently the largest stadium in Ireland with a capacity of 82,500.

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The traditional Gaelic Athletic Association logo is still placed in the center circle of the playing field


The area now known as Croke Park was originally an Athletics Course popularly known as Jones Road Sportsground and owned by a Maurice Butterly. From the foundation of the GAA in 1884 this sportsground was used by the organisation regularly for Gaelic Games and Athletics. In 1896 the 2 All-Irelands for 1895 were played in the ground signifying the growing importance of the suburban plot for the ever expanding GAA. Recognising the potential of the Jones Road sportsground a journalist and GAA member, Frank Dineen, borrowed much of the £3,250 asking price and bought the ground personally in 1908. Only in 1913 did the GAA come into exclusive ownership of the plot when they purchased it from Dineen for £3,500. Once bought, the ground became known as Croke Park in honour of Archbishop Thomas Croke, one of the GAA's first patrons.

In 1913 Croke Park had 2 stands on what is now known as the Hogan stand side and grassy banks all round. In 1917 the rubble from the Easter Rising in 1916 was used to construct a grassy hill on the railway end of Croke Park to afford patrons a better view of the pitch which by now hosted all major football and hurling matches. Immortalised as Hill 16 it is perhaps one of the most famous terraces in the world.

On November 20, 1920 Croke Park was the scene of a massacre by the Auxiliary Division. British police auxiliaries entered the ground, shooting indiscriminately into the crowd killing 13 during a Dublin-Tipperary football match. The dead included 11 spectators and 2 players, Jim Egan and Michael Hogan. The latter, Tipperary's captain, gave his name posthumously to the Hogan stand built three years later in 1924. These shootings, on the day which became known as Bloody Sunday, were a reprisal for the assassination of 14 British intelligence officers by Michael Collins' Squad earlier that day.

In the 1920s the GAA. set out to create a high capacity stadium at Croke Park. Following the Hogan stand, the Cusack Stand, named after Michael Cusack from Clare (who founded the GAA and served as its first secretary), was built in 1927. 1936 saw the first double-deck Cusack Stand open with 5,000 seats, and concrete terracing being constructed on Hill 16. In 1952 the Nally Stand was built in memorial of Paddy Nally, another of the GAA founders. Seven years later, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the GAA, the first cantilevered 'New Hogan Stand' was opened.

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A fully refurbished Croke Park, as seen during the All-Ireland Football Final in 2004.

Stadium Design

In the 1980s the organisation decided to investigate ways to increase the capacity of the old stadium. The design for an 80,000 capacity stadium was completed in 1991. Gaelic Sports have special requirements as they take place on a large field. A specific requirement was to ensure the spectators were not too far from the field of play. This resulted in the three-tier design from which viewing games is possible: the main concourse, a premium level incorporating hospitality facilities and finally an upper concourse. The premium level contains restaurants, bars and conference areas. The project was split into four phases over a 14-year period.

Phase one

The first phase of construction was to build a replacement for Croke Park's Cusack Stand. Completed in 1997 at a cost of £35 million, the new stand is 180 metres long, 35 metres high, has a capacity for 25,000 people and contains 46 hospitality suites. The new Cusack Stand contains three layers from which viewing games is possible: the main concourse, a premium level incorporating hospitality facilities and finally an upper concourse.

Phase two

Phase Two of the development commenced in late 1998 and involved extending the new Cusack Stand to replace the existing Canal End terrace.

Phase three

Phase Three saw the building of the new Hogan Stand. This required a greater variety of spectator categories to be accommodated including general spectators, corporate patrons, VIPs, broadcast and media services and operation staff. Extras included a fitted-out mezzanine level for VIP and Ard Comhairle along with a top-level press media facility. The end of Phase Three took the total spectator capacity of Croke Park to 79,500.

Phase four

After the 2003 Special Olympics, construction began in September 2003 on the final Phase Four. This involved the redevelopment of the Nally Stand and Hill 16 into a new Nally End/Hill 16 terrace. It was officially opened by the GAA Pesident Seán Kelly on March 14, 2005. For logistical reasons, and to provide cheaper high-capacity space, the area is a terrace rather than a stand, the only remaining standing-room in Croke Park. Unlike the previous Hill, the new terrace was divided into separate sections - Hill A (Cusack stand side), Hill B (behind the goals) and the Nally terrace (on the site of the old Nally Stand). The fully redeveloped Hill has a capacity of around 13,000, bringing the overall capacity of the stadium to 82,500.


The new pitch at Croke Park was laid during spring/summer 2002 in time for the Leinster hurling final but its use was limited in its first winter to minimise the damage ahead of the Special Olympics and All-Ireland Club finals, which took place on 17 March, 2003.

This was the first replacement of the pitch surface in the history of the stadium. Supplied and installed by Leicester-based, Hewitt's Sportsturf, the new surface is a DD GrassMaster Desso pitch. The yarn and DD GrassMaster system, comprises of a stable, free-draining base layer topped by a layer of compost-enriched sand. During installation computer controlled machines injected a special yarn into the ground to a depth of approximately 20cm leaving 2cm above the ground.

A rye grass especially developed for Croke Park was then seeded between the artificial grass fibres. Once the natural grass has grown fully and the turf is dense, the artificial grass fibres carry out their work almost invisibly. This natural grass is hard-wearing, quick growing and has a quick recovery time, taking between only four and six weeks to grow. The close proximity of the stitching and the natural grass roots growing around the stitching is what gives the pitch its stability and is the key to the success of this type of surface. The system is employed in a number of English soccer stadia, including Anfield (Liverpool FC), Upton Park (West Ham United) and Villa Park (Aston Villa).


There is great debate in Ireland regarding the usage of Croke Park. As the GAA was founded as an organisation to maintain and promote indigenous Irish sport, it has felt honour-bound throughout its history to oppose other, rival sports. Up until the early 1970s, rule 27 of the GAA constitution stated that a member of the GAA could be banned from playing its games if found to be also playing Soccer, Rugby or Cricket. That rule was abolished but a similar rule, #42, still prohibited the use of GAA property for "foreign" games. This has been taken to mean the sports previously mentioned as the playing of two games of American Football on the pitch during the 1990s showed. On April 16th 2005, a motion to temporarily relax rule #42 was passed at the GAA Annual Congress. The motion gives the GAA Central Council the power to authorise the renting or leasing of Croke Park for events other than those controlled by the Association, during a period when Lansdowne Road - the venue for international rugby and soccer matches - is closed for redevelopment. The final result was 227 in favour of the motion to 97 against, 11 votes more than the required two-thirds majority.

See also

External Links

  • Croke Park Location Maps (
  • [1] (

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