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Croke Memorial Tournament

In 1913 Central Council decided to initiate the Croke Memorial Tournament to raise funds for a suitable monument to the GAA’s first patron, Archbishop Thomas Croke. The final of this tournament was played on 4th March 1913 with Kerry facing Louth.

The attendance of 26,000 at the final surpassed all expectations and was the highest number to date at the venue. The game ended in a draw and the replay on 29th June was eagerly awaited. Such was the excitement that the three major Irish railway companies ran over 40 special trains to Dublin for the replay, carrying more than 20,000 passengers. Special stands were erected and voluntary stewards controlled the crowds.

The gates were closed after 32,000 spectators had been admitted but thousands more swarmed along or over the railway wall. Louth were noted for passing the ball on the ground and for a “soccer” style of play. Kerry, on the other hand, used a traditional catch, swing and kick style. The two teams were level at half time but the staying power of the Kerrymen proved the deciding factor and they ran out winners 2-4 to 0-5. All records for a GAA fixture were smashed and it is estimated that up to 35,000 spectators were present to witness a magnificent exhibition of gaelic football. So successful was this venture that not alone could the Association afford to finance a monument but could think seriously of acquiring a new central sports ground. When all expenses had been met Central Council had made £2,365. On 27th July 1913 Central Council decided to buy the grounds and re-name it as Croke Memorial Park, a title which was never subsequently used. Dineen sold the grounds to the GAA for £3,500 and Croke Park became the principal grounds of the Association and also its administrative headquarters.