Action in Croke Park in September's drawn All-Ireland hurling final. INPHO/Billy Stickland

Liam O'Neill: 'If you have a venue and a tourist body there is no excuse for not co-operating'

The GAA President has called for greater promotion of Croke Park as an attraction for visitors.

LIAM O’NEILL INSISTS there is ‘no excuse’ for co-operation not to exist between GAA officials and Fáilte Ireland in promoting Croke Park as a tourist attraction.

The GAA President believes there needs to be joined up thinking with tourism bodies in properly promoting the games at the venue for visitors to Dublin.

O’Neill was speaking yesterday at the launch of The Centenary Club, which will see 100 premium tickets for the 2013 season being offered in the shape of premier seats in the Davin Stand at a price of €500 per person.

The initiative is part of the Croke Park 100 Year celebrations, which begin in January 2013.

“If you have a venue and a tourist body there is no excuse for not co-operating. We haven’t managed to crack that and I’m not really sure what the difficulty is.

“This country needs everybody to come to the city and whether it’s Croke Park or any other venue or any other cultural event we have to promote it.

“We have to start forming partnerships with people and bring in tourism. Anyone who is staying in the city and comes for an event on a Saturday,  should be aware that we are here and this is an exciting place to be on a Sunday.

“Anybody coming to a conference starting on Monday should be made aware that we are here on the Sunday because people don’t realise how accessible Croke Park is. That’s really the job has been set. This is just the start of it.

“We want to fill the place as much as possible. We don’t want spare seats. We’re aiming at our own customers and we also want to entice people who have never been to Croke Park to be part of the Croke Park experience.

“We have a very innovative sales team. They are fresh, young, bright and they are working like Hell for us.”

O’Neill has highlighted the GAA’s input to The Gathering as proof of the influential role it can play.

“There are two strands to it. We have a situation nationally where we have been asked to organise this international tournament which we are trying to brand at nine-a-side. That will be good because nine-a-side can be played on smaller pitches, be they soccer or rugby on the continent or in Asia.

“At every single county level county councils are engaging with this (The Gathering). The first one they are turning to is the GAA whether it’s at county or club level.

“When you analyse our constituent parts we are helping out regionally because there is no Gathering Committee in any county that does not have GAA representation.”

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