UL opens sports facility that will leave a lasting legacy for students

A massive new state-of-the-art €7m sports facility officially launched at University of Limerick will ‘leave a legacy’ for future students.

The Maguires Pitches were launched this Tuesday at UL by Deputy President, Chief Operating Officer and Registrar, Gerry O’Brien, outgoing UL Director Sport and Recreation Dave Mahedy and UL Student Life President Jack Scanlan.

At 22-acres, the completed and fully operational facility consists of one full-sized natural grass floodlit GAA pitch, plus two full-sized, floodlit synthetic GAA pitches which can also be used as four synthetic soccer pitches with the additional space available.

Back-to-back hurling walls with synthetic grass and a ‘golden mile’ walking and running track with exercise stations completes the development, which also saw the upgrading of the existing outdoor athletics track to international standard.

The largely student funded project has transformed the site into a truly state of the art facility that was launched this Tuesday.

University of Limerick campus aerials – Maguires Pitches Picture: True Media

“This is perfect exemplar of how a student-led project can yield truly magnificent results,” said Gerry O’Brien, Deputy President of UL.

“At a cost of €7m, our state-of-the-art sports campus has been enhanced further with the completion of this project and reaffirms our status as Ireland’s sporting campus and one of the best in Europe.

“We acknowledge the role of sport in shaping our students and the students are at the centre of this institution’s focus and their campus experience, both inside and outside of the lecture halls, is at the core of our commitment to them at UL,” he added.

The move to develop the old grass pitches emerged from within the student body in 2006 and a committee was established.

Pitch development specialist Richard Hayden from STRI Sports Turf Research Institute was commissioned by the UL committee to draft a report on what could be done with the site.

In 2016, more than 70 per cent of the student body opted by referendum to support the plans via a levy that would redevelop Maguires Pitches, a new student centre and climbing wall.

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John Keogh