This week -for the first time since the 2014 Munster Senior Hurling Final where Limerick were beaten by Cork – Pairc Ui Chaoimh hosted a competitive hurling fixture.
After three years of construction which cost a grand total of 80 million euros, the new state of the art Pairc Ui Chaoimh was opened to the public for the first time in over three years for a Premier Intemediate championship fixture between Blarney and Valley Rovers.
Less than 72 hours removed from the opening game, the wider public will be invited to the refurbished arena to witness Tipperary battle with Clare in the first of this years All Ireland Hurling qualifiers. The following day will see Davy Fitzgeralds’ Wexford take on his former side Waterford at the same venue. This weekend’s hurling action will bring in an estimated 25million to the local economy.
A look at the facilities on offer at the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh
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Chairman of the Cork County Board, Ger Lane has noted that, “Every full event here in the stadium is probably worth about €12m to the local economy.” Whilst the development of another world class arena in Ireland is obviously a boost to the Irish economy, the repercussions for other stadia in Munster such as the Gaelic Grounds or Cusack Park in Ennis are extraordinary.
With reference to the Semple Stadium in Thurles and the newly refurbished Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork, there is a growing fear that the Gaelic Grounds has become outdated and will be overlooked for high profile GAA clashes.
Speaking to Sporting Limerick, Matt O’Callaghan says getting big games in Limerick will be a challenge:
“Thats going to be a problem for the Gaelic Grounds going forward beacuse Semple Stadium on one side and now down the road you have Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Semple Stadium has just been voted stadium of the year and Pairc Ui Chaoimh is a new state of the art facility”.
This year’s Munster Hurling Championship saw five games played between the five competing counties. Each one of those games were played in Semple Stadium. The final was originally fixed for the renovated Pairc Ui Chaoimh but construction was not completed in time.
Whilst Semple Stadium is Ireland’s premier hurling stadium, there is no reason it should hold every game in the championship. With the quarter finals to be played in Pairc Ui Chaoimh and the semi finals and final slated for Croke Park, 2017 will see the Gaelic Grounds fail to host a single senior hurling championship game.
This is a worry for the Limerick economy as well as the county board. There has been some respite with the Ennis Road venue holding two Munster U21 fixtures thus far and scheduled to host the final next week.
However, in recent weeks, Limerick was ignored as a potential venue for a grand total of nine Ed Sheeran concerts, three of which will take place in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, whilst Pearse Stadium in Galway as well as concerts in Dublin and Belfast. With the following the British singer attracts there was scope for massive revenue there if the Treaty County was able to negotiate a deal with the artist.
Yet all is not lost for Limerick. The Gaelic Grounds has lots going for it and with some improvement could once again challenge for big games and concerts. Its size and proximity to the city allied with easy access off the motorway gives it a distinct advantage over Thurles or Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
“There is no doubt that with some investment, mainly at the Mackey side to address that side of the ground, the Gaelic Grounds can be brought up to par with Semple Stadium and Pairc Ui Chaoimh”