A ROAR rises from the crowds and echoes out around the 80,000-seater stadium.
Dublin have managed to slip another goal past Roscommon’s tiring defence to seal their place in the next stage of the competition.
The two teams are meeting in the historic venue of Croke Park for the third round of the GAA All Ireland Senior Football Championship.
The annual competition sees its final games battled out at the national stadium with dedicated players from across the country and their never tiring fans vying to be crowned number one.
Ireland’s capital always offers a plethora of sights, entertainment and experiences for every type of traveller but a GAA-focused weekend in Dublin gives an opportunity like no other to experience the atmosphere and the passion that the national sport rouses in its followers.
For those looking to take in the excitement of a game, or simply explore the city, there is no more appropriate choice of accommodation than the iconic four star Croke Park Hotel.
Set on the banks of the Royal Canal and less than a minute’s walk from Croke Park Stadium itself; the renowned venue offered a weekend of warm Irish welcomes and luxury in the heart of the city during my recent visit.
Candles flicker and calming music serenades lightly in the background of the welcoming lobby as I arrive at the hotel late on a Saturday evening.
From the moment I arrived to check in at the front desk, I was greeted with a wide smile by the cheery receptionist who proceeded to offer me a hot towel while he located my booking.
After an efficient check in, I made my way to my room which offered comfort and luxury with mood lighting and all the creature comforts of home, including a king-sized bed to sink into.
Waking on a sunny Sunday morning with sunlight streaming in through the gap in the curtains, there was a gentle knock on the hotel room door.
The full Irish breakfast I had ordered on arriving the evening before was served to me in my room. The top class food across the hotel is sourced from Irish producers, of the highest quality and not shy on portion size.
After washing it down with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, I meandered down to the fully equipped hotel gymnasium to start the day off on the right note.
As it’s match day, the bar and outdoor area in the hotel is alive with a bustle of activity as I wander through ahead of the game.
Supporters from all the different counties gather at this favoured meeting point or guests enjoy a cold beer in the hot Sunday afternoon sunshine.
The charms of a live Irish band can be heard as they serenade the guests with a mix of traditional and contemporary Irish favourites.
It’s easy to see why the Croke Park Hotel is a favourite for anyone travelling to the city for a GAA weekend.
While in the locality be sure to learn all about the poignant history of the GAA and Croke Park itself with a visit to the GAA Museum located inside the stadium.
Not to be missed is the Ericsson Skyline tour which takes you 17 storeys up to a thrilling rooftop walkway at the top of the stadium.
On a windy day it is an invigorating experience, taking in the surrounding scenery as well as the iconic view across the pitch at Croke Park itself.
It is Dublin’s highest open-viewing platform and offers breath-taking panoramic views of the capital from the Dublin Mountains across to the sea, so be sure to bring your camera.
You can wander through the charm of old Dublin in nearby Drumcondra or Dublin City Centre is fifteen minutes away from Croke Park by car or bus.
Make sure you take the time to amble down Grafton Street and experience the charms that the small side lanes that jut off it have to offer, as well as the historic sights spread all across the city.
A trip to the Emerald Isle and Dublin would not be complete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse located in the heart of St. James Gate Brewery.
Take a tour through the history of Guinness, with some tasty samples along the way, and enjoy a freshly pulled pint as part of the experience at the roof top Gravity Bar.
And if you’re feeling peckish after all that, Dublin offers a gastronomic experience that has become synonymous with mixing flavours from around the world with traditional Irish charm and hospitality. A favourite of mine is the Eden Bar & Grill on South William Street in the centre of the city’s Creative Quarter.
It is a feast for the senses with unbeatable food and finish it all off with a fabulous cocktail that is a speciality of the house!
It’s easy to see why Dublin is a firm favourite with tourists and guests from around the country and the world.
Planning a visit?
Sarah Murphy's visit to Dublin and the GAA Experience came courtesy of Tourism Ireland. To plan your trip to Ireland click here. Rooms at the Croke Park Hotel start from €129 per night on a B&B basis, including tax. Click here.