Friday, January 20, 2023

As we reported last week, none of Waterford’s home league or championship games will take place in Walsh Park this year due to redevelopment works.


Last Sunday week the word was on the street that a problem had arisen regarding the staging of the home championship games against Limerick and Clare in Walsh Park. Confirmation, or otherwise, was not available from County Board sources as we went to print with the news on Monday evening before a statement outlining the position finally emerged later that evening. The story that had been doing the rounds over the weekend was confirmed and to say it was a disappointment would be an understatement.
The County Board statement read, “Waterford GAA are delighted to announce that the Phase 1 Redevelopment of Walsh Park has commenced. Following extensive discussions with the contractors and in order to meet the strict requirements of the six-month work programme, Walsh Park will not be available to host the scheduled inter-county games.
“Waterford GAA are currently in negotiations with Croke Park and the Munster Council regarding alternative venues for the Allianz Hurling League and Munster Championship games and the details will be advised in due course.
“It is the intention that Walsh Park will be available to host Waterford GAA Club Championship games from July.”
County Chairman Sean Michael O’Regan went on radio on Tuesday to outline the position and express his disappointment with what had transpired. It was he who had originally stated that the games would go ahead with the contractor on site in good faith but since then the situation had changed through matters beyond their control and while work on site would continue the games as scheduled could not.
The chairman was clearly disappointed but now it is a case of getting the best possible outcome in the short term for Davy Fitzgerald and his team.
The options, as we pointed out last week, must see the home games of the league, against Dublin and Antrim, played in Fraher Field. The Kilkenny game, depending on league results could be expected to attract a crowd in excess of 5,000 which could not be accommodated in Dungarvan and would most likely be conceded to Nowlan Park with the following two league games between Kilkenny and Waterford being played in the redeveloped Walsh Park.
The fixing of the ‘home’ championship games against Limerick and Clare remains a matter between the County Board and Munster Council. On the day of the Waterford/Limerick game , April 23rd, Clare are at home to Tipperary in Ennis so both Thurles and Pairc Uí Chaoimh are available and in such a situation the Munster Council would most likely, suggest Cork as the venue.
On the date of the Waterford/Clare game, May 13th, there are no other games in Munster so Semple Stadium would be available with Waterford most likely to prefer the game to be played there rather than in Cork or Limerick. Waterford’s position regarding the venues for both games will be determined by the preferences expressed by the senior team management who, I suspect, in both cases would rather play in Thurles.
The question of home venues also arises in relation to the underage championships. This year’s U-20 championship will see the games played on a ‘Round Robin’ basis for the first time with Waterford again at home to Limerick and Clare. Dungarvan would now be the logical venue for both games with the Limerick game on Thursday March 23rd preceded just two days earlier, on Tuesday, by the Minor Hurling clash between the same counties.
Waterford’s second home game in the Minor Hurling is listed for Tuesday 11th April in Fraher Field with the second home U-20 game against Clare listed for the following day at the same venue. Fixing championship games one day after the other at the same venue does not make much sense as it gives no recovery time to a ground in the event of heavy rain which can never be ruled out in April.
Given that all of Waterford’s home games in the Allianz Football League will be played in Fraher Field the Dungarvan venue is going to need tender caring in the coming months given the condition in recent weeks.

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