Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

The magic and charm of the Irish citadel

Second home For all the noise that Croke Park produces, it lacks the intimacy and old world charm of Lansdowne Road.

The gates are locked shut on Lansdowne Road. The home of Irish rugby is in the midst of a ?365million (Dh1.7bn) facelift and is set to reopen in April next year. In the meantime, Ireland's Six Nations internationals are being played across Dublin at Croke Park. For all the noise that Croke Park produces, it lacks the intimacy and old world charm of Lansdowne Road. My first visit to Lansdowne Road came for France's visit in the 1987 Five Nations. The French edged that game 19-13, the first of a long list of painful defeats.

No game was more thrilling or painful than the 1991 World Cup quarter-final loss against an Australia side that went on to become world champions. The Irish nearly pulled off the shock of the tournament when, with five minutes left, flanker Gordon Hamilton found himself with the ball in hands, stormed past the Wallaby legend David Campese and outsprinted the wing the remaining 40 yards to the line for a stunning try.

Spectators and players mobbed Hamilton as Ireland moved into a three-point lead. But the jubilation was shortlived as Ireland conceded a late penalty. Rather than go for the safe three points to level the match, Michael Lynagh decided to take a quick penalty which was duly rewarded by him finishing off the move with a try. The packed stadium was silenced and I have never seen more grown men cry. Lansdowne Road was a scene of silent devastation.

Since then, there have been plenty of games, plenty more defeats and plenty of big wins. I witnessed Brian O'Driscoll light up the Six Nations for the first time and Keith Wood dance a jig in celebration after dashing England's Grand Slam hopes in 2001. The only shame is that the ground is now called the Aviva Stadium: for me, it will always be Lansdowne Road.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was kicking off at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with plenty of excitement in store. Ravindranath K / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The first match in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, was held at Zayed Cricket Stadium amid plenty of colour.

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike qualifies Al Jazira for last 16 of Asian Champions League

A dramatic late goal gave Al Jazira a 3-2 victory at Al Rayyan of Qatar in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday night and it was just enough to push Walter Zenga’s side into the knockout stages.

 Zayed Cricket Stadium had not witnessed so electrcic an atmosphere before Wednesday evening. Pawan Singh / The National

Packed house gathers in Abu Dhabi for Indian Premier League opener

In less than half a day, Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed the force that is Indian cricket, with the sound drowning out the controversies that have dogged the Twenty20 tournament, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks down after being defeated during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images

Plenty of life still in Barcelona, says Gerardo Martino

Barcelona coach maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

 Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg at the official press conference following qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1: Toto Wolff says Mercedes have all the right ingredients in place

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far dominated the first three grands prix going into this weekend’s fourth round in China.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, left, reacts as Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2014. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. AFP PHOTO/Andrew YATES

Poyet says ‘I am sure that Luis Suarez is going to be happy’ after Sunderland draw at Manchester City

Sunderland’s survival chances remain slim because now they face Chelsea away at the weekend but manager Gus Poyet insists they are not trying to benefit Liverpool or his fellow Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National