GAA officials in both Galway and Croke Park are to be contacted to determine the future of Duggan Park in Ballinasloe – a venue that used to host top club and county games.
Members of Ballinasloe Municipal Council expressed outrage over the fact that it was being left in a dilapidated state with no commitment towards its upgrade and especially given its central location.
And councillors again labelled Pearse Stadium as “a nightmare” of a venue with one member saying that it was a ground that very few wanted developed and should be sold for housing with the revenue from this put into developing both Tuam Stadium and Duggan Park.
Duggan Park is the only GAA ground in Galway that has floodlighting but it is not in a position to hold a national football or hurling league match because of the fact that works commenced at the venue a number of years back and were never completed.
Mayor of Ballinasloe Cllr Aidan Donohue raised the matter at this month’s meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council and expressed frustration that nothing was being done to upgrade the ground.
He said that state-of-the-art lighting was installed and works commenced on the ground with most of the terracing being removed – then works ground to a halt.
“We have one of the most centrally located venues in the country with a surface that many counties would die for but it desperately needs renovation in a bad way. As it stands, it cannot accommodate inter-county matches,” Cllr Donohue explained.
There had been plans to develop the ground and most of the terraced areas were dug up but then works came to a complete standstill.
A number of years ago floodlighting was provided at Duggan Park at a cost of around €350,000 but the ground itself was not further developed as promised at the time.
It was envisaged that a new stand would be provided – the existing stand can cater for just 2,000 spectators – and that new terracing would be provided. But works at the venue just ground to a halt.
Duggan Park is generally recognised as having one of the best surfaces in the country and would make an ideal venue for home National Football League matches – but the lack of capacity is militating against this.
Cllr Donohue, a former Sarsfields hurler, said that a redevelopment programme for the ground was announced three years ago but to his knowledge, no application for funding had been lodged.
He now wants the Chief Executive of Galway GAA John Hynes and County Chairman Pat Kearney from Kilbeacanty to explain why works at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe have ground to a halt.
Cllr Michael Connolly said that both Tuam and Ballinasloe grounds needed to be developed as a matter of urgency. “It is a nightmare trying to get to Pearse Stadium in Salthill and nobody likes going there,” he said.
The Fianna Fail councillor said that GAA fans who attended this year’s Mayo match in Pearse Stadium spent hours in their cars trying to get home. He supported the call for investment in both Tuam and Ballinasloe.
Cllr Connolly said that most of the important matches in Pearse Stadium take place during the summer months when there are thousands of visitors in Salthill.
“Bringing 20,000 or 30,000 spectators to this venue at that time of the year is absolute madness when there are alternatives out there. We have neglected these two top venues in Tuam and Ballinasloe for far too long,” he added.