Paul Rouse: "There was a resistance in Croke Park to change in how it operates"

Off the Ball's Saturday panel discussed the use of GAA grounds for non-sports events

Paul Rouse: "There was a resistance in Croke Park to change in how it operates"

360 Tour concerts in Croke Park. Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

The use of Croke Park for big concerts in the middle of the Championship season has become a major talking point in recent weeks.  

A section of the pitch came in for criticism from Dublin manager Jim Gavin after their Leinster final win over Kildare last weekend - days after Coldplay preformed at GAA Headquarters.

Parts of the pitch were relayed and while Gavin praised the ground staff for their work in making the pitch playable for the provincial final - he questioned whether allowing these concerts to take place in the middle of Championship season was the best idea.

He told Off the Ball's Oisin Langan after the match that "it wasn't great now for both teams and is probably something the GAA need to have a little reflection on. The groundsmen did an excellent job - an outstanding job to turn it around so quick but going into a provincial final, is that the right thing to do, to be replacing that part of the pitch?"

Paul Rouse, a lecturer in Irish history and Sports history at UCD, Keiran Cunningham from the Irish Daily Star and Carlow Football manager, Turlough O'Brien, joined Richie McCormack on Off the Ball's Saturday panel to discuss the history of GAA venues and the non-sporting events that they have held. 

"I think that's a general question for how Irish society was working at the time as well," said Rouse, adding: "Ireland was late getting into the big music venues during that stage.

"There was a resistance in Croke Park to change in how it operates - it's always slower to change than other things. So you had Dalymount in, as you said before, and Slane was going in the mid-eighties as well."

A general view of the pitch ahead of the match. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Grealy

"It (the GAA) matched what was happening around the world as well so you had the use of stadia all across America from the late '70s onward - we just follow trends," he said.