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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Croke gets Government cash
Croke Park in north Dublin
Croke Park is now an ultra-modern 80,000-seater stadium
The Irish Government is to give the Gaelic Athletic Association another 40 million Euro towards redevelopment costs at Croke Park.

However, GAA president Sean Kelly said that there were no strings attached to the grant.

He said that it was not part of a deal that will see rugby and football being played at Croke Park while Lansdowne Road is being redeveloped.

''There are no strings attached,'' said Kelly. ''That needs to be emphasised.''

But the fact that the ground has received so much public money is bound to lead to calls for the GAA to allow other sports to be played at Croke Park.

When work on the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road begins in 2006, Ireland's international football and rugby teams will be without a major venue.

However, if by some chance the GAA finally agrees to open up Croke Park to other sports, it will still be too late for the IRFU to host games for the 2007 World Cup.

Because Lansdowne Road will not be ready until 2008, Ireland had to forfeit pool games, and home advantage. The IRFU handed back those games at the beginning of September.

That decision apparently cannot be overturned as the wheels are already in motion within the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to organise the extra commitments.

The work on the ultra-modern 80,000-seater Croke Park has cost 250 million Euro so far with almost 110 million coming from the public purse.

Kelly said the Government cash would reduce the strain of servicing their 100 Euro million debt.

''Some say that we'd have to make undertakings if we got any more more money from the Government.

''But that hasn't happened. The matter can be looked at independently now, not influenced by that partciular issue.''

The GAA could well come under pressure to change its controversial Rule 42 rule which bans 'foreign games' from association venues throughout the 32 counties.




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