… is without a doubt an impressive place and for many it still has a resonance that goes beyond the sporting alone.  I come from a background where both histories of the ground were freely intermingled and easily switched between. So part of me has always been a bit cynical about the ‘modernisation’ that put a towering great sports stadium where the old Hogan and Cusack stands used to be. Not least I suppose because my late father  – after 50 years of unbroken attendance at  Hurling All Irelands – found to his dismay that he could no longer find the wherewithal to continue being a season ticket holder in this bright, new corporate world. [His local club rallied around and ensured he was never short of a ticket through the remainder of his life – but that’s another story.] 

However, for reasons that are more trouble to relate than they’re probably worth, I am sitting here on a rather overcast  morning in the conference area of the ‘new’ Hogan stand.  Below me  – or rather below and level with and above me – the U2 stage totally dominates the playing arena.  The conference area itself is comfortable and a little understated. Corporate boxes double as working spaces and meeting rooms and there’s a bit of a 21st century buzz to it all that draws you in. Naturally, the eye is drawn constantly to the pitch – or rather where it should be!- and the surrounding banks of seating that just seem to rise skyward against all odds and expectations. 

The old guy had an expression which today – in this place and space – seems particularly apt; Changing days always suits someone. Usually someone else.  But give things a chance and they can surprise you.   Perhaps he had a point after all.