16 April 2005


Croke Park opened to other sports

Croke Park is one of the finest stadiums in Europe

The Gaelic Athletic Association has taken an historic decision to allow Croke Park to be opened to soccer and rugby on a temporary basis.

Saturday's GAA Congress proposal was passed by 227 votes to 97.

The decision now opens the door to the Ireland rugby team and Republic of Ireland soccer side playing at the Dublin stadium.

There had the prospect of the teams being forced to play in Britain because of the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road.

The motion required a two-thirds majority to get through which translated to a figure of 217.

Therefore, the Sligo county board motion had 10 votes to spare.

The Sligo proposal called for Croke Park to be available to be "leased or hired" during the duration of the Lansdowne Road redevelopment.

Under the Sligo motion, Rule 42 will return to the GAA's statute book once the Lansdowne Road development is completed.

The redevelopment of Lansdowne Road, which is scheduled to begin later this year, is expected to take at least three years.

Prior to Saturday's vote, a number of delegates spoke out strongly against the proposal.

GAA president Sean Kelly supported the historic change

Ulster GAA president Micheal Greenan made an impassioned plea calling for the status quo to remain.

Cavan and Donegal were the only Ulster counties to vote in favour of allowing football and rugby to play at HQ, while all six of the northern counties were against any change.

In the other main business of the day, Kilkenny man Nicky Brennan defeated Christy Cooney in the GAA presidential election.

Brennan won the vote by 171 to 154 and he will assume the presidency after next year's Congress.

The Kilkenny man had favoured the opening of Croke Park to other sports while Cooney was against the historic move.

As regards other motions, Congress decided on Saturday morning to dispense with the clean pick-up which has been in operation during the Allianz National Football League.

It will remain in force for the rest of the National League but will then be dropped from the rules.

After the conclusion of the NFL, goalkeepers will continue to have the option of using a tee for kickouts.

Congress also decided to set-up a new arbitration body which, it is hoped, will reduce the likelihood of players using the courts to overturn disciplinary decisions.

The new Central Appeals Committee, which will officially come into existence after next year's Congress, will have a chairman and one representative from each province.

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