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Croke Park, St Joseph’s Ave, Drumcondra, Dublin 3, tel. 819 2300, www.crokepark.ie is home of the fast and furious Gaelic games of Football, Hurling and Camogie. One of the world’s most spectacular stadiums, it is also the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The venue is steeped in history and today is the country’s largest stadium, with a capacity of 82,300. In 2007 alone over two million people paid it a visit, not only for the various All-Ireland Gaelic finals but for international soccer and rugby matches (with the planned re-building of Lansdowne Road - the world’s oldest rugby ground - all Six Nations, World Cup and friendly matches have moved to Croke Park. as have Republic of Ireland soccer matches). Muhammad Ali has fought in Croke and U2 and Robbie Williams have performed there. As well as other events, Croke has conference facilities, a GAA Museum and daily Tours every hour except match days. For updated match details click here.
The League of Ireland came into being in 1921 when those clubs in the Republic of Ireland split from the Irish League (administered from Belfast in Northern Ireland). This being Ireland even the Beautiful Game can get confusing: football in the Republic is administered by the Football Association of Ireland and the League of Ireland … in the North it’s the Irish Football Association and the Irish League. Also, be aware that any mention of football may be confused with Gaelic Football.
Now reach for the headache tablets... the nationwide League, known simply as the Eircom League (after the communications sponsors), runs March-Nov, with the Cup Final in Dec. Many games draw large enthusiastic crowds. There are three Premier League clubs in Dublin:
Bohemians: Dalymount Pk, Phibbsborough, Dublin 7, tel. 868 0923/1034, www.boh.ie. Current Premier League Champions and FAI Cup holders. The oldest team in Ireland, all-amateur until 1969. Also known as The Gypsies.
Shamrock Rovers: Tolka Pk, Drumcondra, Dublin, tel. 460 5948, www.shamrockrovers.ie. Formed in 1901, The Hoops are the most successful team in the history of Irish football (though not lately).
St. Patrick's Athletic: Richmond Pk, 125 Emmet Rd, Inchicore, Dublin 8, tel. 454 6332, www.stpatsfc.com. Premier League runners-up. Founded in 1929. Also known as The Saints. Their website has a specially warm welcome for Poles.
For lots more footy info, contact the Football Association of Ireland: 80 Merrion Square, Dublin 8, tel. 703 7500, www.fai.ie.
Leinster is one of the four Irish provinces that play rugby union in the Magners League and the Heineken Cup (the others are Ulster, Munster and Connaught). They play at the RDS ground (Royal Dublin Society), 55 Main St, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, tel. 269 3224, www.leinsterrugby.ie. Their star played is Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. Pick up a colourful souvenir from the team shop.