The planned redevelopment of Walsh Park looks set to be delayed amidst funding issues.
The most disappointing news to come out off last Monday’s County Board meeting was that the eagerly awaited development of Walsh Park that seemed to be on track to commence after the two home games of this year’s Munster Championship is set to be pushed down the line as a result of a delay in the approval of state funding.
It appears that funding by the GAA, Munster and Central Councils, is in place but state funding, which is a vital component of the package, is conditional on no work commencing before such funding is approved and released by the department responsible. County vice chairman Sean Michael O’Regan informed the board that everything has been done and will continue to be done by the County Board, Munster Council and Central Council to secure the release of funding as soon as possible.
Sean Michael informed the meeting that there will be no further update on the matter until September and if that is the case there is no prospect of work commencing and being completed before next year’s Munster championship which will see us in the same position as last year where our home games against Tipperary and Cork are concerned. If work is somehow commenced before the end of this year after funding is approved and delivered Waterford will again have to play home games outside of the county or in Dungarvan with a crowd limit of four to five thousand max under health and safety regulations.
Had the green light been given work would now be in hand and the development likely to be completed by next summer. All club games would have been moved out of Walsh Park for the remainder of the year. Now it is a case of ‘as you were’ and we are at the mercy of a government department and who really knows how long that will go on for.
There was a somewhat surprising intervention at last week’s County Board meeting by former secretary Timmy O’Keeffe who, in the wake of Waterford’s unfortunate early exit from the Munster Championship for the second year in a row called for a ‘high profile independent group to examine all aspects of Waterford hurling’. Timmy, a man who is always thinking of ways to improve matters where championships and other aspects of board administration id concerned, seems to believe that there is something wrong in Waterford hurling without identifying what he believes it to be. He went so far as to name the people he feels should be on such an independent group in Michael Walsh, Cyril Farrell, Fergal Hartley, Dermot Cantillon of Horse Racing Ireland and John Moloney, former managing director of Glanbia, some of whom we know to be very capable people and all very busy people. One would have to presume that these names have not been plucked out of the sky and that Timmy would have already got commitment from them to give their time to such a project before naming them publicly.
It is a well documented fact that Michael Walsh invested considerable time and effort in compiling a way forward for Waterford GAA at the request of County Board not too long ago only for his suggestions to be consigned to the bin mainly because he advocated the scrapping of the divisional boards. His involvement at club level over the years makes him well aware of every aspect of activity at playing and administrative level in the county and the same is true of Fergal Hartley through his involvement with club and county teams. Just what the other people mentioned could bring to the table escapes me.
The coaching structures in Waterford are up there with the model in any other county. Schools are well catered for as are clubs at underage levels. Kudos were given all round to the coaching structures with the emergence of our underage teams to compete at the highest levels from Tony Forristal to U-21 in the noughties up to today. Last year our minor teams beat the two teams who qualified for the Munster final in the round robin series. This year they were most unlucky to lose at home to Clare and were robbed of victory in the drawn game with Limerick. They went down narrowly to Tipperary having had to play most of the game with fourteen players and just lost out away to Cork in a game in which they had nothing to play for. Clare and Limerick will now meet in the Munster final. We are not that far behind other counties if results are what we go by.
If Timmy believes there is something wrong with Waterford hurling there could be no better man to identify it and come up with a solution than himself having completed five years at the coal face. Certainly, there is no need to set up a ’Quango’.