The Dubs and Croke Park: A Love Affair

A Wexford defender has been churlish enough to moan about the Dubs and their (never-ending) relationship with Croke Park, writes Conor Neville.

A Wexford defender has been churlish enough to moan about the Dubs and their (never-ending) relationship with Croke Park, writes Conor Neville.

The gamey Aindreas Doyle was rude and mean-spirited enough to put the totally reasonable argument back on the table surrounding Dublin’s God-given right to play every championship match in Croke Park. Pearse Park in 2006 holds the distinction of being the last provincial ground in which the Dubs trooped out in summer.

The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park, it cost 17 million euro to buy a two-up, two-down in Drimnagh and Bertie Ahern was telling everyone that such a price would look like a bargain come the following year.

The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park, Steve Staunton was ‘the Gaffer’ and was riding high having trounced Sweden 3-0 in a friendly in his opening match.

The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park, Barack Obama was a nobody from Illinois, and Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in to become the next American President.

The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park, soccer and rugby hadn’t been played at Croke Park.

The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park, the Irish rugby team hadn’t won a Grand Slam in 58 years but Eddie O’Sullivan looked to be the man to sort that out as well as leading Ireland on an inevitably successful World Cup campaign in France.

The last time Dublin played a championship outside Croke Park, Manchester City was a pokey, unglamorous, middle-of-the-road club that never won anything and never looked like winning anything.

The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park, Amanda Knox had never been to Italy.

The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park, there used to be the odd film made without Michael Fassbender in it.

The 2006 Longford-Dublin match was an extremely close affair, notable for signaling Longford’s new-found quality, having been hammered the previous year by Dublin (in Croke Park obviously). They shot into a scarcely believable 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes only to be pulled back by a neatly taken goal by Mark Vaughan (There’s another one. The last time Dublin played a championship match outside Croke Park, Mark Vaughan was... no we’ll leave it). Longford ended up losing by two points after finishing strongly and having dominated for very long spells of the game. It was the kind of match, similar to Kerry in ‘09, where you felt Longford could have won but only in retrospect, never in real time. It was the type of game where you saying while it was still on, “if Longford hadn’t hit those couple of wides earlier, they could be well in it now” and once it was finished “God, you know Longford had the ‘winning’ of that game.”

Obviously the Croke Park thing is not something you want to complain about to actual Dubs because then you have to listen to all that blather about ‘the Hill’ and sitting in silence is better than that. Of course, technically, Croke Park isn’t Dublin’s home ground. Parnell Park is Dublin’s home ground. You could argue the Dubs are unlucky in that they never get to play any home games in the Championship (or even in the League these days).

Croke Park is its own county in many ways. It just happens to be encircled by Dublin.