Open and show off Croker, says Kenoy

FORMER Roscommon County Board chairman Tommy Kenoy remains adamant that Croke Park should be opened to other sports.

His stance remains unaltered despite comments by the GAA's Director General Liam Mulvihill that the opening of the stadium would eliminate one of the few competitive advantages the Association has over rival codes.

"While accepting that Mr Mulvihill is correct in everything he says in his report to next month's Congress in Killarney, I'm firmly of the view that to have such a magnificent stadium like Croke Park under-utilised for most of the year doesn't make economic sense.

"I cannot argue with the points Mr Mulvihill puts forward for not opening up the stadium. They all make good sense. But it's an asset the GAA has that can earn us vast sums of money, which could be put to good use.

"If you look back to the Special Olympics and the enormous success they were, and the amount of excellent comment which followed about the facilities in Croke Park, it makes sense to allow the stadium to host similar sporting occasions for the whole world to see," the former Roscommon official said.

"Take the soccer international between Ireland and France in September of next year in the World Cup qualifiers. If there isn't a stadium in Dublin to host that fixture, we will probably have to export the whole occasion to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff or some place like it.

"We are not alone exporting the game but we are also exporting the value of the occasion, both socially and financially, to the business scene in Dublin.

"Close on 65,000 to 70,000 people would journey over to Wales for that match with the loss of enormous financial return to the Irish economy, and the goodwill that will go with it. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

"I don't see why we shouldn't stick our chest out proudly about Croke Park. It's one of the finest stadiums in the world and easily the best in Europe. Why shouldn't we show it off?

"Of course I understand the other side of the argument. After all we live in a democratic society and anyone who has a point of view is entitled to make it. But one of the problems I have with the whole debate is the lack of debate. We haven't been given the opportunity to have a proper debate on the matter.

"To me the only way to get a truly democratic view on this is to send it out to the general membership and let them vote. Whichever way that went we could then walk away knowing we have a truly democratic decision.

"You won't get that at a GAA Congress. A lot of delegates go to congress not mandated. It's mostly their personal opinions rather than the membership back in their clubs.

"I appreciate that delegates must be given some leeway with some motions in order to see what way the debate is going, but this particular issue has been well aired and there should be no difficulty for any county to mandate their delegates heading to Killarney in a fortnight's time," he said.

Asked about the concerns that clubs have about their own grounds being opened up, should it happen with Croke Park, Mr Kenoy said he was totally opposed to such a move.

"I can guarantee you that both my club and I would be utterly opposed to any relaxation of Rule 42 beyond Croke Park. We would oppose it vehemently."

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