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.