Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium director explains pitch's poor condition

By John Fogarty
GAA Correspondent

Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium director Bob Ryan has cast doubt about the venue being able to host Allianz League double bills in January and February in the future, writes John Fogarty.

Ryan explained “a lack of growth” as the primary reason for the poor state of the turf for Cork footballers’ Division 2 fixture against Cavan and the following Division 1A meeting with Waterford.

The shadow created by the South Stand had caused a problem, one which was first mentioned last August when Páirc Uí Chaoimh hosted the All-Ireland senior hurling quarter-finals.

Coupled with a lack of growth, the recent dry spell led to the sandy terrain on the South Stand side of the field.

“There is a difficulty there,” acknowledged Ryan, “which we will have to address for the period between October and March.

“There will have to be grow lights put in there. Yesterday (Sunday) was unlucky because it dried out and the sand came up. We expect it to be back to normal in a few weeks once the growth season starts again.”

With the likelihood of hosting a Division 1 quarter-final or relegation play-off the weekend after next, plans are already in place to ensure the turf is in better condition.

“We’ve started to have a look at it and remedial works have started,” confirmed Ryan.

“We just need a bit of growth and we can’t really do a whole lot about that.

“It’s all about growth or the lack of it. It’s a new pitch and people forget that. It takes a lot of time for a new pitch to become established. Cork is no different from anywhere else.”

Ryan also questioned the practicality of staging double-headers at a time of year where pitches are under increasing pressure to withstand a large amount of footfall.

Sunday was Cork’s second such double-header following the league’s opening weekend games against Tipperary in football and Kilkenny in hurling.

“The other issue here is double bills in January and February,” said Ryan. “On a pitch other than Croke Park, there can be difficulties with that and going ahead with them in the future may have to be looked at. It would be logical (to avoid them) too. If they were in a month’s time, you’d have no problem.”

This past weekend, Austin Stack Park also played host to Kerry’s senior hurlers and footballers as did Bord na Mona O’Connor Park in Tullamore, Glennon Brothers Pearse Park and Ruislip’s McGovern Park with Offaly, Longford and London’s teams respectively but a growing number of counties have avoided putting two matches on in succession.

Mayo’s hurlers played in Ballina on Sunday a day after the footballers faced Dublin in Castlebar. Donegal’s teams played in Ballyshannon and Letterkenny. The Sunday previously, both Monaghan’s sides lined out in Inniskeen but the hurlers took on Tyrone on the Grattan Park back pitch while the footballers faced Kerry on the venue’s main field.

Meanwhile, the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee are keeping their fingers crossed the forecasted bad weather doesn’t upset the final round of the Allianz Hurling League this weekend.

With Division 1 quarter-finals to take place the following weekend and semi-finals and finals following in quick succession, there is no wiggle room other than to arrange midweek matches if games are postponed.

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This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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