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Main article: "Bloody Sunday (1920)

During the "Irish War of Independence on 21 November 1920 Croke Park was the scene of a massacre by the "Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). The Police, supported by the "British "Auxiliary Division entered the ground, shooting into the crowd killing or fatally wounding 14 civilians during a "Dublin-"Tipperary Gaelic football match. The dead included 13 spectators and Tipperary player, "Michael Hogan. Posthumously, the Hogan stand built in 1924 was named in his honour. These shootings, on the day which became known as "Bloody Sunday, were a reprisal for the killing of 15 people associated with the "Cairo Gang, a group of "British Intelligence officers, by "Michael Collins's 'squad' earlier that day.

Stadium design[edit]

In 1984 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 an upper concourse. The premium level contains restaurants, bars and conference areas. The project was split into four phases over a 14-year period. Such was the importance of Croke Park to the GAA for hosting big games, the stadium did not close during redevelopment. During each phase different parts of the ground were redeveloped, while leaving the rest of the stadium open. Big games, including the annual All-Ireland Hurling and Football finals, were played in the stadium throughout the development.

The outside of the Cusack Stand

Phase one[edit]

The first phase of construction was to build a replacement for Croke Park's Cusack Stand. A lower deck opened for use in 1994. The upper deck opened in 1995. Completed at a cost of £35 million, the new stand is 180 metres long, 35 metres high, has a capacity for 27,000 people and contains 46 hospitality suites. The new Cusack Stand contains three tiers from which viewing games is possible: the main concourse, a premium level incorporating hospitality facilities and finally an upper concourse. One end of the pitch was closer to the stand after this phase, as the process of slightly re-aligning the pitch during the redevelopment of the stadium began.

Phase two[edit]

Phase Two of the development started in late 1998 and involved extending the new Cusack Stand to replace the existing Canal End terrace. It is now known as The Davin Stand (Irish: Ardán Dáimhím), after "Maurice Davin, the first president of the GAA. This phase also saw the creation of a tunnel which was later named the Ali tunnel in honour of "Muhammad Ali and "his fight against Al Lewis in July 1972 in Croke Park.[6]

Phase three[edit]

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 (Where the dignitaries sit) along with a top-level press media facility. The end of Phase Three took the total spectator capacity of Croke Park to 82,000.

Phase four[edit]

After the 2003 Special Olympics, construction began in September 2003 on the final phase, Phase Four. This involved the redevelopment of the Nally Stand, named after the athlete "Pat Nally, and Hill 16 into a new Nally End/Dineen Hill 16 terrace. While the name Nally had been used for the stand it replaced, the use of the name Dineen was new, and was in honour of "Frank Dineen, who bought the original stadium for the GAA in 1908, giving it to them in 1913. The old Nally Stand was taken away and reassembled in Pairc Colmcille, home of Carrickmore GAA in Co Tyrone.[7] The phase four development was officially opened by the then GAA President "Seán Kelly on 14 March 2005. For logistical reasons (and, to a degree, historical reasons), and also to provide cheaper high-capacity space, the area is a terrace rather than a seated 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 13,200, bringing the overall capacity of the stadium to 82,300. This made the stadium the 2nd biggest in the EU after the Nou Camp, Barcelona. The new Wembley stadium has now taken over second place with Croke Park in third However, the presence of terracing means that for international football, the capacity is reduced to approximately 73,500, due to FIFA's statutes stating that competitive games must be played in all-seater stadiums.


Croke Park floodlights in use during Six Nations Championship match

The pitch in Croke Park is a soil pitch that replaced the "Desso GrassMaster pitch laid in 2002. There had been several complaints by players and managers that the pitch, which was installed in 2002, was excessively hard and far too slippery, so the decision was taken to replace it with traditional soil pitch.[8]

Since January 2006, a special growth and lighting system called the SGL Concept has been used to assist grass growing conditions, even in the winter months. The system, created by Dutch company SGL (Stadium Grow Lighting), helps in controlling and managing all pitch growth factors, such as light, temperature, CO2, water, air and nutrients.[9]


With the "2007 Six Nations clash with "France and possibly other matches in subsequent years requiring lighting the GAA installed "floodlights in the stadium (after planning permission was granted). Indeed, many other GAA grounds around the country have started to erect floodlights as the organisation starts to hold games in the evenings, whereas traditionally major matches were played almost exclusively on Sunday afternoons. The first game to be played under these lights at Croke Park was a "National Football League "Division One match between "Dublin and "Tyrone on 3 February 2007 with Tyrone winning in front of a capacity crowd of over 81,000 – which remains a record attendance for a National League game, with Ireland's Six Nations match with France following on 11 February.[10] Temporary floodlights were installed for the "American Bowl game between "Chicago Bears and "Pittsburgh Steelers on the pitch in 1997, and again for the "2003 Special Olympics.


U2's Vertigo Tour at Croke Park in 2005
U2's 360° Tour at Croke Park in 2009
Concerts at Croke Park
Date Artist Tour Attendance
29 June 1985 "U2 "The Unforgettable Fire Tour 57,000
1986 "Simple Minds -
27 and 28 June 1987 U2 "The Joshua Tree Tour 114,000
28 June 1996 "Tina Turner "Wildest Dreams Tour
16 and 18 May 1997 "Garth Brooks World Tour II -
29 and 30 May 1998 "Elton John & "Billy Joel Face To Face Tour -
24, 25 and 27 June 2005 U2 "Vertigo Tour 246,743
20 May 2006 "Bon Jovi "Have a Nice Day Tour 81,327
9 June 2006 "Robbie Williams "Close Encounters Tour -
30 May 2008 "Celine Dion "Taking Chances Tour
1 June 2008 "Westlife "Back Home Tour 85,000
14 June 2008 "Neil Diamond -
13 June 2009 "Take That "Take That Present: The Circus Live -
24, 25 and 27 July 2009 U2 "U2 360° Tour 243,198
5 June 2010 Westlife "Where We Are Tour 86,500
18 and 19 June 2011 Take That "Progress Live 154,828
22 and 23 June 2012 Westlife The Farewell Tour 170,000
26 June 2012 "Red Hot Chili Peppers "I'm with You Tour -
23, 24 and 25 May 2014 "One Direction "Where We Are Tour 235,008
20 June 2015 "The Script & "Pharrell Williams "No Sound Without Silence Tour 74,635
24 and 25 July 2015 "Ed Sheeran "x Tour 162,308
27 and 29 May 2016 "Bruce Springsteen and the "E Street Band "The River Tour 2016 160,188
9 July 2016 "Beyoncé "The Formation World Tour 68,575
8 July 2017 "Coldplay "A Head Full of Dreams Tour[11] -
22 July 2017 "U2 "The Joshua Tree Tour 2017 -

Controversy on playing non-Gaelic games[edit]

List of non-Gaelic games played in Croke Park

There was great debate in Ireland regarding the use of Croke Park for sports other than those of the GAA. As the GAA was founded as a "nationalist organisation to maintain and promote indigenous Irish sport, it has felt honour-bound throughout its history to oppose other, foreign (in practice, British), sports. In turn, nationalist groups supported the GAA as the prime example of purely Irish sporting culture.[12]

Until its abolition in 1971, 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 association football, rugby or "cricket. That rule was abolished but "rule 42 still prohibited the use of GAA property for games with interests in conflict with the interests of the GAA. The belief was that rugby and association football were in competition with Gaelic football and hurling, and that if the GAA allowed these sports to use their ground it might be harmful to Gaelic games, while other sports, not seen as direct competitors with Gaelic football and hurling, were permitted, such as the two games of "American football ("Croke Park Classic "college football game between "The University of Central Florida and "Penn State, and an "American Bowl "NFL preseason game between the "Chicago Bears and the "Pittsburgh Steelers) on the Croke Park pitch during the 1990s.[13]

On 16 April 2005, a motion to temporarily relax rule No. 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 soccer and rugby matches – was 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.

In January 2006, it was announced that the GAA had reached agreement with the "Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and "Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) to stage two Six Nations games and four soccer internationals at Croke Park in 2007 and in February 2007, use of the pitch by the FAI and the IRFU in 2008 was also agreed.[14] These agreements were within the temporary relaxation terms, as Lansdowne Road was still under redevelopment until 2010. Although the GAA had said that hosted use of Croke Park would not extend beyond 2008, irrespective of the redevelopment progress,[14] fixtures[15] for the "2009 Six Nations rugby tournament saw the Irish rugby team using Croke park for a third season. 11 February 2007 saw the first rugby union international to be played there. Ireland were leading France in a Six Nations clash, but lost 17–20 after conceding a last minute (converted) try. "Raphael Ibanez scored the first try in that match; "Ronan O'Gara scored Ireland's first ever try in Croke Park.

A second match between Ireland and "England on 24 February 2007 was politically symbolic because of the events of "Bloody Sunday in 1920.[16] There was considerable concern as to what reaction there would be to the singing of the British "national anthem ""God Save the Queen". Ultimately the anthem was sung without interruption or incident, and applauded by both sets of supporters at the match, which Ireland won by 43–13 (their largest ever win over England in rugby).

On 2 March 2010, Ireland played their final international rugby match against a Scotland team that was playing to avoid the wooden spoon and hadn't won a championship match against Ireland since 2001. Outside half, Dan Parks inspired the Scots to a 3-point victory and ended Irish Hopes of a triple crown.[17]

On 24 March 2007, the first association football match took place at Croke Park. The "Republic of Ireland took on "Wales in "UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying Group D, with a "Stephen Ireland goal securing a "1–0 victory for the Irish in front of a crowd of 72,500. Prior to this, the "IFA Cup had been played at the then Jones' Road in 1901, but this was 12 years before the GAA took ownership.

Negotiations took place for the "NFL International Series's 2011 game to be held at Croke Park but the game was awarded to "Wembley Stadium.[18][19] In July 2013, it was announced that "Penn State would open their 2014 "college football season against "Central Florida at Croke Park.[20]

World record attendance[edit]

On 2 May 2009, Croke Park was the venue for a "Heineken Cup rugby "semi-final, in which "Leinster defeated "Munster 25–6. The attendance of 82,208 set a new world record attendance for a club rugby union game.[21] This record stood until 31 March 2012 when it was surpassed by an "English Premiership game between "Harlequins and "Saracens at "Wembley Stadium which hosted a crowd of 83,761.[22] This was beaten again in 2016 in the "Top 14 final at the "Nou Camp which hosted a crowd of 99,124

Skyline tour[edit]

A walkway,[23] known under a sponsorship deal as "Etihad Skyline Croke Park, opened on 1 June 2012.[24] From 44 metres above the ground, it offers views of Dublin city and the surrounding area.[25][26] The "Olympic Torch was brought to the stadium and along the walkway on 6 June 2012.

GAA Hall of Fame[edit]

On 11 February 2013, the GAA opened the Hall of Fame section in the Croke Park museum. The foundation of the award scheme is the Teams of the Millennium "the football team which was announced in 1999 and "the hurling team in 2000 and all 30 players were inducted into the hall of fame along with "Limerick hurler "Eamonn Cregan and "Offaly footballer "Tony McTague who were chosen by a GAA sub-committee from the years 1970–74.[27] New inductees will be chosen on an annual basis from the succeeding five-year intervals as well as from years preceding 1970.[28] In April 2014, Kerry legend Mick O'Dwyer, Sligo footballer Micheál Kerins, along with hurlers Noel Skehan of Kilkenny and Pat McGrath of Waterford became the second group of former players to receive hall of fame awards.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "- 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012". 
  3. ^ Sinead O'Carroll. "Eucharistic Congress: 80,000 pilgrims gather in Croke Park for closing Mass". 
  4. ^ "Croke Park Stadium Facts and Figures". 
  5. ^ "IFFHS". 
  6. ^ "Rate Card" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2009. 
  7. ^ "Old Stand, New Venue" "The Irish Independent 1st October 2007
  8. ^
  9. ^ SGL. "Stadium Grow Lighting - Homepage". 
  10. ^ "Dublin and Tyrone look set to play under lights". RTÉ News. 28 November 2006. Retrieved 12 January 2007. 
  11. ^ "Coldplay set to wow the crowds at Croke Park next year". Amy Mulvaney, Irish Independent. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  12. ^ Dr W. Murphy lecture, September 2010
  13. ^ Cummiskey, Gavin (1 December 2011). "Croke Park bid to host lucrative NFL game". Irish Times. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Croker to host rugby and soccer in 2008". RTÉ News. 17 February 2007. Archived from the original on 19 February 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  15. ^ "official fixture list". Retrieved 8 May 2008. 
  16. ^ "Symbolic step of peace at Irish stadium". Retrieved 25 February 2007. 
  17. ^ "Parks' penalty denies Ireland Triple Crown : Match Centre - RBS 6 Nations - Official Website". 
  18. ^ "Croke Park is linked to hosting NFL". RTÉ Sport. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  19. ^ Battista, Judy (18 April 2011). "Lockout Could Jeopardize Game Set for London". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  20. ^ "Report: Penn State, Central Florida will play 2014 game in Dublin". 9 July 2013. 
  21. ^ Leinster 25–6 Munster. BBC Sport (2 May 2009)
  22. ^ "World record crowd watches Harlequins sink Saracens". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 April 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  23. ^ "Etihad Skyline Croke Park". Skyline Croke Park. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  24. ^ "Euro 2020 vision at HQ". Irish Examiner. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  25. ^ Hogan, Louise (24 May 2012). "Sky's the limit for new Croke Park walkway". Irish Independent. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  26. ^ "Ever wanted to see Dublin from 17 storeys up? A new skyline tour at Croke Park will wow thrillseekers, and fans". Evening Herald. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  27. ^ "GAA open Hall of Fame in Croke Park". 12 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "Cregan and McTague join Hall of Fame inductees". Irish Times. 12 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  29. ^ "Kerry legend Mick O'Dwyer among four inductees to the GAA Museum Hall of Fame". Irish Independent. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

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