Posted by: twobigyellowcranes | 24 February 08

Hill 16

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I had a good day out in Dublin yesterday, having gone down to watch the Ireland vs Scotland international 6 Nations rugby match. Ireland ran out comfortable winners, 34-13.

This was the first international rugby match that I had seen in Croke Park, following Ireland’s relocation from Landsdowne Road due to its planned redevelopment. Croke is a really impressive stadium, holding up to 80,000 spectators and with great facilities (including a hot whisky stand). It was developed using a lot of government funding and is on a par with stadiums like the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

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There was a great deal of resistance initially from the GAA (Gaelic Athletics Association) to letting bastardised sports like rugby and football take place on the hallowed turf. For those who don’t know, Gaelic football and hurling are true Irish sports and have been played for centuries. Croke Park was the scene of a massacre in 1920, which was the original ‘Bloody Sunday’. Following the murder of 14 British agents by Irish rebels, the British Army arrived at a gaelic game at Croke Park and shot dead 14 civilians (including 1 player) as a thinly veiled reprisal. Both incidents were appalling.

It is a sign of progress on this island that rugby is now played at Croke Park (nothing at all to do with financial return, as I crush the cynic in me). It is also a sign of progress that the Republican Sinn Fein protest organised to object to Princess Anne attending the rugby match seemed to consist of about 15 people, who were universally ignored by the people on the way to the match. Some people have little to worry them.

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