The eagerly awaited ‘Green Light’ to proceed with the upgrading of Walsh Park to a 15,000 capacity stadium was received by the Waterford County Board last week as An Bord Pleanala dismissed appeals against the proposed development and ruled out accepting any further appeals in the future.
It was expected that details of the ruling would be outlined at last evenings meeting of the County Board and the way is now clear to finalise details of the funding for the project with Croke Park and Munster Council, the main stakeholders, prior to proceeding with the tendering process. It is clear that such matters will not be finalised overnight and that the use of Walsh Park for the home games in this year’s Munster Championship remains very much on the agenda where the County Board is concerned.
As reported here last week, a recent audit by Heath and Safety officials has deemed the capacity of Walsh Park to be in the region of 11,000. That figure is just 1,000 below those recorded for Waterford’s games in Ennis against Clare and in The Gaelic Grounds against Tipperary last year. The final decision on the matter is up to Munster Council and based on the above figures it is difficult to see how the Waterford request can be dismissed. County chairman Paddy Joe Ryan is adamant that the County Board will be pressing hard to bring the games against Clare and Limerick to Walsh Park and so give Waterford a level playing field with the other Munster counties in terms of home advantage which they did not have last year.
EXPENSE OF COUNTY TEAMS
Having had a most successful fundraiser in the WIT Arena last year with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ the County Board returns to the same venue on March 29th next for its major fundraising venture which will feature the popular TV game show The Kube with Michael Ryan’s Al Eile Stud as the main sponsors of the event.
The importance of making the event a success will, I am sure, have been stressed at last evening’s County Board meeting where the monthly financial report will have outlined the expenditure to date on county teams with just three rounds of the hurling and football leagues played. While financial reports to the County Board meetings are always held ’in camera’ details will not be released for public consumption but word will be out on the ground, as it were, and delegates will have received a reality check.
Throughout the country questions are being raised in counties as to the extent of expenditure on county teams and the ability of county boards to sustain the levels of expenditure that goes into training. Just how long Croke Park can go on ignoring the situation remains to be seen. As things stand there is no level playing field out there for all the counties.
It is understood that the last remaining managerial post for 2019 was due to be filled at last evening’s board meeting with the name of Roanmore’s Stephen Gough being put before the meeting for the position of U-20 hurling manager. Gough was the 2017 minor hurling manager and will have the same panel of players available to him in the upcoming U-20 championship. In the minor championship of 2017 Waterford lost all three games, being well beaten in away games against Clare, Cork and Limerick. The new U-20 championship replaces the long standing and very popular U-21 grade and will be played on a straight knockout basis with Waterford’s opening round game taking place on July 9th against Tipperary in Semple Stadium.