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"The Stuff On The Big Screen, The Music" - Horan On Dub's Hidden Croker Advantages

"The Stuff On The Big Screen, The Music" - Horan On Dub's Hidden Croker Advantages
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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With the draw now set for the All-Ireland senior football championship group stage, a hot topic of debate is the venues at which Dublin will play their opening games in the Sam Maguire series.

Having opened this year's campaign in Portlaoise against Laois, Dublin proceeded to play their Leinster semi-final against Kildare in Croke Park - and, after their victory, they progressed to the final against Louth which will, again, be played in Croke Park.

30 April 2023; Colm Basquel of Dublin in action against Kevin Flynn of Kildare during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Semi Final match between Dublin and Kildare at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Their victory over Kildare was also followed, however, by strong comments from the Lilywhites manager Glenn Ryan about the advantages enjoyed by Dublin in playing so many of their games in Croke Park each year. Ryan's comments have caused a stir, with the likes of Paul Flynn and Dick Clerkin shutting down his remarks in the days since.

Ryan has found support, however, from former Mayo manager James Horan. No stranger to a contest with Dublin in Croke Park, Horan spoke on the Examiner's GAA podcast this week about the advantages enjoyed by Dublin in Croke Park, and broke down why it was an issue the GAA needed to address.

James Horan adds voice to Dublin Croke Park debate

With the new All-Ireland format comes a group stage in which each of the 16 counties qualified will play one home game, one away game, and one game at a neutral venue. Of course, the hot topic of debate is where Dublin's neutral game in the Sam Maguire group stage will be played.


All roads point to Croke Park, with the GAA coming under renewed pressure to acknowledge the perceived advantages enjoyed by the Dubs when they play at HQ in their home county. If their neutral game is placed in Croke Park, and they were to progress to the knockout stages of the All-Ireland, it would see them play five of at least seven games in the championship this season in the stadium.


Speaking on the Examiner's Gaelic football podcast this week, James Horan said that the advantages which come with playing in a stadium of that familiarity have to be acknowledged by those in the GAA.

Horan said that there was an undeniable "bias" that came with fixing Dublin games for Croke Park, and broke down the small elements of the matchday experience which work in their favour in Croker:


I think the familiarity that Dublin have with Croke Park, there's a bias there that favours Dublin that some of the officials, and people around Croke Park don't even realise.

When Dublin are there, it's per se their home ground. They know the people around the place, times, dressing rooms, the stuff on the big screen, images that are shown, the music that's played.

Players on the pitch before the game, some are allowed, other teams are not. You're meant to have a certain amount of people on the sideline...some teams can have more than others and nothing's said.

It's small in isolation stuff, but when you add it all up there's definitely something there that's a favour to Dublin. This is nothing to do with the Dublin players, or anything like that. It's because they're there so often, because they've been so successful, they know the names of all the people on all the doors, they can go where they want - other teams can't.

They're all small things, but it does add up to something that can be a frustration. It does add up to something that might be that one attack or that one play or that one bit of confidence that can impact the game.

Though they may be "small things," they are nonetheless facets of the matchday experience which help players get in the right mindset, and the amount of games Dublin have played in Croke Park in recent years can only have helped their familiarity with the home of the GAA.


The comments from James Horan have already drawn a reaction from some others in the GAA community, including ex-Dublin man Diarmuid Connolly.

Connolly shared the footage of Horan's comments on Twitter with the caption "Comedy gold" - making his feelings clear on the Dublin Croke Park debate.

This will certainly be a hot topic throughout the GAA summer - and it now feels as though there is plenty of pressure on the association to make a brave call when it comes to setting Dublin's fixtures for the All-Ireland series.

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