Family days out that keep everyone pleased are few and far between. We hit the jackpot recently however when we headed to Croke Park to take in the Croke Park Tour and the Ericsson Skyline tour. In case you don’t know it already, we are GAA mad in this house. I’m sure you do know it because if you’re a regular reading you’ll know I’m always banging on about the GAA!
I wanted to finish out the summer holidays with a bang and if Carlsberg did the perfect day out for us four then this would be it. I’m pretty sure any sports mad family would enjoy it. In fact, I bet my proverbial bottom dollar on it!
Both my kids and of course myself and Daddy Chambers have been in Croke Park many times. However, there’s just something quite magical about getting inside the heart of the GAA’s headquarters and that’s what makes the tour so great.
As a former sports journalist myself I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of the stadium that others may have not. Now that Aidan is old enough to understand what a sports journalist is, he’s very interested in mammy’s old job. Anytime we take him to Croker I also point out the press area in the Hogan Stand to him and he’s in awe of it. So for him to actually get up to the press area was a massive highlight for him. He sat in the seat I usually sat in on the days I was working! Daddy Chambers was also hugely impressed by the media area too, moreso the amazing view from the upper deck of the Hogan where it’s situated and even I got a bit nostalgic for my old job when I was up there if I’m honest.
Sarah, on the other hand, could not get over the dressing rooms. I’m not quite sure what she was expecting. The only dressing rooms she has any experience of are the ones in our previous club Moorefield and the one’s in our current club Walterstown. There’s nothing wrong with either but boy are they basic compared to the ones at Croker. Each county jersey was hung up and she was quick to find the Meath one and of course the Kildare one! We were told how the manager’s have their own separate changing room with a shower and when Sarah needed the loo a few minutes later that’s where we went. She done her business and popped out of the cubicle to wash her hands. It was then she noticed the shower and she comes out with “doesn’t Andy McEntee (Meath manager) have a lovely fancy shower all to himself when the poor players have to shower together!” Oh how the mind of a four year old works.
Outside the dressing room is a warm up/training area for the players and straight after that we were brought outside. I was like a big child when sounds of a packed stadium cheering on were played and I got to run down the tunnel under the Hogan Stand. It gave me the shivers to be honest. What must it be like for players? The kids, naturally, loved this too with Aidan announcing he was going to do it for real when he grows up! I sure hope he does.
We got to walk the famous 34 famous steps of the Hogan Stand up to the presentation area where a replica Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy awaited us. Of course Aidan announced he was going to walk those steps for real when he is bigger too. You have to love the mind of a child!
When we were given a tour of the Premium Level Suites and informed by our tour guide Annnette that they cost a cool €120,000 over a few years. The Aidan lad turned around and told Daddy Chambers he should buy one so we could go to every single came in Croke Park. We can but dream!
We saw the player’s lounge, saw the groundsmen hard at work and had an absolute whale of a time playing all the interactive games in the Museum. A personal highlight for me was looking back at the highlights of games from yesteryear in the museum before we stopped for lunch ahead of our Ericsson Skyline tour.
Luckily we had a clear, warm day and this was the most amazing part for me. The kids absolutely loved being up so high and us adults loved seeing the historic sights of Dublin from on high.
I know the school holidays are well and truly over but I can’t recommend this day out enough. So much so that I’d happily do it all over again. So if you’re looking for a family day out some weekend or at the first mid-term, this one is top notch.