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From Idea to Innovation: A Croke Park Final to Remember

Impact |  8.23.2021

Sunday, August 22nd, saw the All-Ireland Hurling Finals return to Croke Park, Dublin, as we headed for a second Championship close against the backdrop of the global pandemic. 

As Limerick took on Cork in the final, for the first time in 18 months, Croke Park was filled with 40,000 supporters – themselves supported throughout by Aramark culinary and operations teams.  

Not only was this a historical moment for both teams and fans, but it was also a landmark moment in Ireland’s pandemic journey. After months, with no supporters and no events taking place in Croke Park, there was a special atmosphere in the stadium.

Our team at Aramark were delighted to be back in Croke Park hosting the All-Ireland Championships in both hurling and Gaelic football. In the spirit of innovation and experience, our Culinary team took on their own All-Ireland Final challenge, as they do every year: to create showstopper dessert to mark the occasion, using some produce grown on Croke Park’s farm in North Co. Dublin.

After missing out on the chance to do so last year, this year our chefs were eager to take on the challenge. 

The idea for the showstopper came from the GAA’s new championship sliotar (the Irish name for the ball used in Hurling). This year, for the first time, the sliotar was a distinctive bright yellow colour and the spark of an idea was formed. Ruairi Boyce, Executive Chef at Croke Park, used this new sliotar to create his dessert. 

Ruairi started by creating a chocolate sphere with a passionfruit and mango white forest filling, then coated the ball in the closest match to the real championship sliotar. He then tempered chocolate and piped it onto the sphere to give the ball the signature rope stitching effect. 

Finally, the chefs presented the sliotars on platters in the shape of Hurley sticks, with green desiccated coconut as grass. The result was truly showstopping and shows lengths our chefs go to to create some of their dishes. 



For many around Ireland, this was a special day that signified life beginning to return to normal and gave a sense of hope surrounding the end of a difficult few months for everyone.


It was an occasion that needed a dish to match its gravity and significance, and our Chefs delivered, showing true innovation and creativity in the process. Well done to our chefs and the entire Aramark team at Croke Park over the weekend!