Motion calls for open trial at Croke Park

Croke Park should be opened to rugby and soccer for a three-year trial period while Lansdowne Road is being redeveloped, according to a motion submitted to the GAA tonight.

Croke Park should be opened to rugby and soccer for a three-year trial period while Lansdowne Road is being redeveloped, according to a motion submitted to the GAA tonight.

However, the Roscommon motion will have to be approved by the GAA’s motions committee before it can be debated at the annual congress in Croke Park in April.

Former Roscommon County Board chairman Tommy Kenoy said he had drafted the motion to support Irish international sporting events.

“If we don’t open Croke Park, we’re going to have to send the Ireland versus France match to the Millennium Stadium in Wales,” he said.

Mr Kenoy said that if the experiment was unsuccessful, it could be abandoned at the end of the three-year trial period.

Another 10 counties have re-submitted motions on the controversial Rule 42, which states that Croke Park and other GAA-owned grounds can only be used for GAA activities.

Both the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Football Association of Ireland face the prospect of playing home-based international fixtures abroad next year when the reconstruction of Lansdowne Road into a 50,000 seater stadium begins.

Mr Kenoy said the rental revenue generated from soccer and rugby matches in Croke Park could be used to enhance the GAA’s own games.

“It’s a great shame that the GAA has a €250m stadium in North Dublin and they refuse to exploit its commercial potential,” he said.

He added that he believed this was the view of nearly 80% of GAA members around the country.

The GAA is repaying debts of around €58m incurred during the redevelopment of Croke Park, despite a €40m grant from the Government last year.

However, others in the GAA claim that allowing the 80,000 seater stadium to be used for soccer and rugby matches would give these sports a competitive advantage.

Last year, the motions committee threw out eight motions on Rule 42 for being out of order with GAA rules.

Mr Kenoy, who spent eight years as chairman of Roscommon County Board, said he had had drawn up his latest motion in conjunction with a solicitor.

“Now we have to hold our breath and see what the motions committee says. We were denied the chance to debate Rule 42 in congress last year. This year, you’d have to be worried the same thing would happen again,” he said.

The motions committee is made up of GAA Director-General Liam Mulvihill, current GAA president Sean Kelly, who has publicly supported the campaign to debate Rule 42, and ten ex-presidents, many of whom have opposed the notion of opening of Croke Park.

A GAA spokeswoman said the motions committee would meet on February 15 to rule on which motions were eligible to be debated at GAA Congress.

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