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Waterford’s Austin Gleeson tell us about the first time he played in Croke Park

‘The field is always in pristine condition and the atmosphere is different to other stadiums.’

Austin Gleeson tells us about the first time he played in Croke Park.
Austin Gleeson tells us about the first time he played in Croke Park.

The final installment of the GAA Go Games Provincial Days will take place this weekend, which gives thousands of children from clubs all around the country a chance to play in the iconic Croke Park.

You can’t get much better than Croke Park, it’s where champions play and where history is made. It’s safe to say that it would be any child’s dream to play there.

Our Littlewoods Ireland ambassador and current Waterford player Austin Gleeson knows all too well what it’s like to play there. We spoke to the Mount Sion man about his earliest memories in the stadium and what it’s like to play in Croke Park on All Ireland final day.

What are your earliest memories of Croke Park?

My earliest memory of Croke Park is going to watch Waterford in the 2002 All Ireland Semi-Final against Clare. Unfortunately, the result wasn’t the one we were hoping for.

When was the first time you played in Croke Park?

The first time I played in Croke Park was against Kilkenny in the Minor All Ireland Semi Final in 2013.

What was it like for you personally the first time you played there?

It was a fond memory for me as we won the match by 2 points and I got Man of the Match on the same day.

Do you feel that playing in Croke Park is different to other stadiums?

Yes, 110% it is different. There is something special about playing in Croke Park, the crowd always seem more excited, the games are always just that one step more intense.

 Would it make you more nervous?

No, thankfully for myself I don’t actually get nervous before I play in games.

13 August 2017; Austin Gleeson of Waterford celebrates after the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Who has been your toughest opponent while playing in Croke Park?

I would have to say Kilkenny in our first semi-final as a team in 2015. They were physically and mentally stronger than us that day and had us beaten easily.

What is your least favourite thing about playing in Croke Park?

There is nothing to dislike about playing in Croke Park! It is just an amazing stadium.

What is your favourite thing about playing in Croke Park?

The field is always in pristine condition and the atmosphere is different to other stadiums.

What was it like to play in Croke Park on All Ireland Final day?

It was amazing, the build-up to the game was something else. When we reached Dublin that day, both sets of fans were shouting, screaming and cheering heading into Croke Park. It is something I will never forget in my life.

Then we went into the dressing room, to take our time and relax. We went out and watched the minor final. We then came back in and just tried get in the zone basically then. The match itself absolutely flies by then without you even noticing to be honest!

This weekend, Littlewoods Ireland will give thousands of children the opportunity to play in Croke Park for the first time as part of the GAA Go Games Provincial Days.

Ellen McConville

Typically found on the sidelines or in Croke Park, Ellen is the Sports Content Editor for Littlewoods Ireland and your go-to gal for all things GAA. A big lover of all things Christy Moore, fashion and some wine and cheese as well.

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