Dublin players yearn for the unique vibe of Páirc Tailteann: Ciarán Kilkenny’s thoughts


2019 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final - Croke park all ireland, tags: ciarán - CC BY-SA

Ciarán Kilkenny acknowledged the lackluster atmosphere at Croke Park during Sunday’s Leinster SFC opener, emphasizing that the game would have thrived in Meath’s Navan venue. With an official attendance of merely 21,445, including the preceding camogie league finals double-header, the vast expanse of Croke Park remained notably vacant during Dublin’s commanding quarter-final victory.

Kilkenny, a distinguished eight-time All-Ireland champion, proposed that Meath’s Páirc Tailteann, with its approximate capacity of 11,000, would have offered a far more vibrant atmosphere.

Expressing his sentiments as an ambassador for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, slated for August 24th at the Aviva Stadium, Kilkenny further scrutinized the GAA’s championship promotion strategies, suggesting there were valuable lessons to be gleaned from the fervor and celebration surrounding American collegiate football.

Kilkenny expressed his belief that the atmosphere would have been significantly enhanced had the game been held at Páirc Tailteann. “We would have welcomed the opportunity for the match to take place at Páirc Tailteann, particularly for the enhanced atmosphere it would have offered,” he remarked.

GAA Promotional Insights: Kilkenny’s Perspective

Acknowledging Meath’s rich footballing heritage and their deep sense of pride in the sport, Kilkenny empathized with their likely disappointment in the match outcome. “Meath has a storied tradition in football, and they would undoubtedly have preferred a more spirited performance,” he noted.

While acknowledging the competitiveness of the first half, Kilkenny voiced his concerns about the declining attendance and emphasized the need for action. “The contrast between the attendance at Croke Park for the league final against Derry and the turnout of 22,000 on Sunday is stark,” he observed, underscoring the urgency for addressing the issue.

Kilkenny emphasized the need for greater promotional efforts within the GAA, acknowledging his perspective as both a schoolteacher and a player concerned with the broader impact. “There’s definitely room for improvement in promoting our games,” he asserted.

Reflecting on the benefits of a condensed season for players, Kilkenny highlighted the importance of maintaining a vibrant atmosphere around key matches, particularly the September All-Ireland finals. “From a promotional standpoint, the September finals are fantastic for schools, as they coincide with the return of students from holidays, creating a buzz around the All-Ireland final,” he noted.

While not in a decision-making role, Kilkenny expressed his belief in the potential for further promotional endeavors to enhance the appeal of GAA matches. “While I may not have all the answers, I do believe there’s untapped potential in promoting our games more effectively,” he concluded.

When questioned about the upcoming double-header of Leinster semi-finals slated for Croke Park, Kilkenny entertained the idea of breaking tradition and holding the matches at two separate provincial venues. “Absolutely, I’m open to that possibility,” he affirmed. “As players, we relish the opportunity to compete in various stadiums and embrace the unique atmosphere each one offers.

Aviva Stadium Showdown; Kilkenny’s Praise

In August, the Aviva Stadium is set to host an eagerly awaited clash between Georgia Tech and Florida State University, expected to draw a capacity crowd.

Expressing his enthusiasm for the event, Kilkenny encouraged attendance, noting the captivating pageantry and entertainment synonymous with American collegiate football. “I highly recommend attending the match,” he emphasized. “The way they celebrate their game is truly remarkable, and there are valuable lessons we can glean from their approach.”

Regarding Dublin’s performance on Sunday, which saw them gradually assert dominance in the second half to secure a convincing victory over Meath with a scoreline of 3-19 to 0-12, thereby advancing to a Leinster semi-final clash against Offaly, Kilkenny acknowledged the team’s mixed display. “There were moments of sloppiness,” he admitted.

“However,” he continued, “we found our rhythm in the second half and managed to execute effectively. It’s a positive start to the season, and we’re pleased to have it underway.”

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