Aussies get green light for Croker cricket run-out
FIRST rugby, then soccer, now cricket.
Another chapter in Croke Park's extraordinary history will be written next month when the Australian cricket team show off their talents at GAA headquarters.
It follows a request by Australia to the GAA to be allowed to have a 'throw about' in Croke Park on Monday, June 14, three days before they play Ireland in a one-day international in Clontarf.
The matter came before Central Council where it was agreed to grant the Australians, who will be staying across the road at The Croke Park Hotel, permission to use the pitch. They are expected to attend the Dublin v Wexford and Laois v Meath/Offaly Leinster football semi-finals in Croke Park on the previous day.
Allowing cricket -- even if it is only a practice session -- into Croke Park would have been unheard of prior to the relaxation of Rule 42 in 2005, but now it is regarded as a chance to promote the stadium.
"The Australian cricketers were aware of Croke Park from watching their international rules and rugby teams playing there and were keen to have a run-out on the pitch. Central Council agreed to permit it as a special event. Anything that gets the Croke Park brand out there in the marketplace is important. We're in a very competitive space right now," said the Croke Park stadium director, Peter McKenna, in reference to the opening of the redeveloped Lansdowne Road.
While allowing the Australian cricketers in for an informal "throw about" may be a good marketing ploy, it could come back to haunt the GAA later on in the year when county teams seek permission to have a training run on the pitch prior to big championship games.
There have been complaints in the past when some squads were refused permission for familiarisation runs in Croke Park, which have been largely confined to All-Ireland club finalists and to county teams who have reached All-Ireland semi-finals after a long absence.
"It wouldn't be possible to facilitate every squad that wanted a run-out in Croke Park. In all, 52 different GAA teams played in Croke Park last year so we couldn't possibly facilitate them all. However, we do our best to facilitate teams who reach All-Ireland semi-finals if they haven't been in Croke Park before.
"Of course, we'll also allow the international rules team to practise there. Anthony Tohill (Irish manager) has booked five sessions ahead of the game with Australia next autumn" said McKenna.