Walking across the north side of Dublin city Centre, Croke Park quickly comes into view. In a predominantly low rise city, the stadium stands clear above the skyline. To many followers of Gaelic games, the stadium represents the pinnacle of any season’s achievement. The club fi nals are played there in March, and the county All-Ireland fi nals in September. To join the September crowd of 82,300 people means that your team has succeeded at the highest level, and it is a day not to be missed by any fan of Gaelic games; indeed, for many it is seen as the sporting highlight of any year. However, as I walk towards the stadium on a wet midweek morning in mid-winter, there are no milling crowds, but rather empty streets. Off Clonliff e Road, a street of terraced houses to one side of the stadium, there is a small laneway which leads under a railway bridge. Beyond the bridge is the entrance to the Croke Park stadium and GAA museum. A traffi c barrier bars the entrance. It is manned by a security guard in fl uorescent jacket who mutters a good morning, and raises the barrier to let me in. I have arrived at what many consider one of the most signifi cant sites in Irish sporting and national life.