Belfast Telegraph

Biting back: Rejoice when big GAA games aren't held at Croke Park

By Declan Bogue

A few weeks back, various media outlets were focusing on the Munster football final as being one of the last occasions to say goodbye to Pairc Ui Chaoimh, before renovation.

It was hardly Cold Blow Lane, but de Páirc wasn't great now, all things considered. It had many faults, and overcrowding was a feature of every half-time under the stands.

Yet when they bade it farewell on 'Thank GAA It's Friday', they delivered a sentimental piece on the 1983 All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Cork.

After the first game ended in a draw in Croke Park, the Rebels staged a coup by bringing the metropolitans down the country.

For that reason, the game is part of the rich GAA folklore. As are the events of Thurles, 2001, when Kerry and Dublin played an All-Ireland quarter-final and Maurice Fitzgerald landed an outside of the boot effort that was pure poetry and made a hero out of Paídi.

When the GAA host big games outside of Croke Park, they are to be treasured.

It is hard therefore to take the knee-jerk reactions of some towards last Saturday's All-Ireland semi-final replay between Kerry and Mayo in Limerick.

Imagine the delight of the avid football fan in Limerick who got to see a game of this magnitude on his doorstep? And the promotional opportunities of playing it in the heart of rugby country?

And the reason for hosting an American football match in Croke Park on the same day? Money. The same money that will be handed down to county boards everywhere to build stands and spend on themselves.

I don't have a problem with that. Neither should you.

Belfast Telegraph

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