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'It's falling down, but there's something special about Páirc Uí Chaoimh' -- Pa Cronin

The Bishopstown forward is hoping the familiar old stadium can give him his best memory yet.

WITH CORK PREPARING to say farewell to Páirc Uí Chaoimh over the next nine days, Pa Cronin is hoping the last county game played at the ground will create his fondest memory.

The Rebel footballers will run the unique gauntlet from dressing room to pitch this weekend, but the grand finale will come on Sunday July 13 when the hurlers face Limerick in a rematch of last year’s Munster Senior Hurling Championship final.

“We’ve had some good days and some bad days there,” says the Rebels’ hurling captain.

“Standout memory, I suppose, was 2005: I was minor captain that day and we went to play Limerick actually and they were red-hot favourites that day and we beat them by nine points.

Patrick Cronin lifts the cup for Cork 26/6/2005 A winning captain against Limerick in 2005, Pa Cronin INPHO INPHO

“Coming up to senior with my club in 2006 from intermediate was on that pitch as well so winning that county was another massive achievement.”

New stadia often remove some of the mystique surrounding a team’s traditional stronghold and all of that may well lie in store for Cork’s future. But for the next two weekends, Kerry footballers and Limerick hurlers will have to come through the uncomfortable confines of the away changing room to face a Cork side who will no doubt take inspiration from the cramped spaces and hard edges.

“We’re down there to train there most nights – the dressing-rooms were designed off of soccer dressing-rooms.

“There is something special about it, it’s so run-down. There’s three showers there at a time so the queue is unreal. As I said, it’s really bog-standard basic but there is something special.”

“Especially for big games like this. coming out of the tunnel and everyone is there, it’s a nice way to enter the pitch.”

Pa Cronin and Wayne McNamara James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“I remember playing some Championship games and there was probably too many tickets sold and you had the fans nearly on the sideline against Tipp, which you wouldn’t have seen since the 70s or 80s.

“I don’t know [if] can they replicate it. I know it’s falling down and all that but there is something special about the place.

Along with the facilities, there is much speculation over the condition of the pitch underneath the rickety stands. However, after Shane Dowling called the turf ‘beautiful’ earlier this week, Cronin was another eager man to avoid excused under foot.

“Everyone knows, the facilities aren’t great and the dressing rooms are brutal and all that but the pitch is immaculate. It’s incredible compared to Thurles, it’s better than Thurles, it’s up there with Croke Park in my opinion – it’s a massive pitch, never been in bad condition and I’m sure it will be unreal for Sunday week.”

“The buzz around the place is unreal at the moment for tickets and things like that. So it would be unbelievable to win it.”

Liberty Insurance are delighted to be the first joint sponsor of both the GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship and the Camogie Championships.

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