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Battle to open Croker

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    Battle to open Croker

    Not trying to rehash the argument ...just nice to see what went on behind the scenes as such.

    The battle to open Croker - and the men who fought it
    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=122 align=right border=1>
    Eddie O'Sullivan's Ireland will have their first competitive outing against France at Croke Park on Sunday </TD></TR></T></TABLE>

    Wednesday February 7th 2007

    ON FRIDAY night, to mark his role in a gesture of goodwill to sporting brothers, Tommy Kenoy will be a guest of the IRFU at the Ireland v France U-21 international in Athlone and the subsequent banquet.

    On Sunday he'll take his place in the Ard Comhairle section of the Hogan Stand, courtesy of his position as Roscommon's Central Council delegate.

    Anthony Delaney won't be too far away, provided Kenoy delivers on the promise of a ticket. Some 150 miles south east of Croke Park, Noel Walsh will be spending this historic Sunday rather differently, however.

    He'll be weighing up the impact that Páidí Ó Sé has made on Clare when they host Antrim in Cusack Park. "I'd like to be in Croke Park for such on occasion," said Walsh. "But my priority is the Clare football team. It always has been."

    They were the chief protagonists of the movement behind the gates of Croke Park being thrown open to new audiences.

    All three have held high office at club and county level, their credentials can't be questioned. In Walsh's case he was Munster Council chairman for three years, ran for president when Sean McCague was elected in 2000 and spent another three years as a GAA trustee.

    Mavericks they weren't, but between them they shared a common desire to have the rules governing the use of Croke Park changed.

    Sean Kelly is still busy fielding compliments and forging a new career on the strength of it. But the momentum came from an unlikely triumvirate who found themselves championing the cause at the same time almost six years ago.


    By accident rather than design, Delaney's Shanahoe club and Kenoy's Kilmore in Roscommon had both proposed rules seeking to alter the constraints on GAA grounds. Shanahoe and Laois sought broad change for all GAA grounds, Kilmore's was Croke Park-specific. A Longford motion to 2001 Congress mirrored the Laois proposal.

    Twelve months earlier in Galway, the same Laois motion was taken off the Congress agenda and referred to Central Council where it sank without trace. This time it would be different.

    At the 2001 Congress, Walsh picked up the baton on Kenoy's Croke Park motion. Kelly, a GAA vice-president at the time, wasn't even in the room due to a family engagement, and the motion was lost by just a single, highly controversial vote.


    Had Kelly been present to give support there and then, who knows how different the course of his presidency might have been? This week the arrival of rugby to Croke Park probably wouldn't be such an issue.

    Other delegates were conveniently missing from the floor that April morning in the Burlington Hotel. Some slept it out, others had bathroom engagements. The net result was Croke Park stayed shut and a great battle for hearts and minds ensued over the next four years. Delaney, Walsh and Kenoy were always in thick of it.

    The reasons they had for seeking change differed. Walsh spent many days at meetings in Croke Park looking out on a ground that stayed empty for six months of the year. It moved him to speak out. Kenoy saw commercial opportuni
    \"As she lay there dozing next to me, one voice inside my head kept saying, \'Relax, you\'re not the first doctor to sleep with one of his patients\', but the another kept reminding me, \' you are a veterinarian!\'\"

    Fair play to him. Hats off.

    Whats still obvious is the amount of snidey abuse the Pro-"foreign games" camp get from within the organisation which is a shame.


      Cusack Park is 150 miles South East of Croker?[img]smileys/shock.gif[/img]
      Munster - Incessant Perfervidity
      "Ireland Will Choke" - Jeremy Guscott


        150 away from Dubarry Park, surely?
        \"This year is different because this year they won\'t beat snow off a rope. They\'ll revert back to type and get 6 shades of s**t bate out of them in the group stages of the HEC ...\" Tobyglen 21 Sept 2010