Galway’s only floodlit GAA ground falling into disrepair

DILAPIDATED . . . Duggan Park in Ballinasloe where ground capacity has been restricted. Photo: Gerry Stronge.

A local councillor and former hurler is demanding to know why the only county GAA ground in Galway with floodlighting has not been developed as promised.

The dilapidated state of Duggan Park in Ballinasloe is to become a major item for discussion at the October meeting of the local Municipal Council.

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.

Mayor of Ballinasloe Cllr Aidan Donohue said that Galway County Board had to answer questions as to why Duggan Park was not developed as had been promised. He will be inviting members of the County Board to a meeting to explain the situation.

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.

At the moment most of the terraced area in Duggan Park has been dug up as part of an intended redevelopment programme to compliment the provision of the floodlighting but that has now been shelved for the time being.

Even since the floodlighting was provided, it was not used to facilitate any high-profile matches, as was the hope at the time. Because the terraces are dug up, it is now restricted to a capacity of around a couple of thousand spectators.

This was a venue which played host to many of Galway’s national hurling and football league fixtures as well as several county hurling finals. In the past, it was recognised as having one of the best surfaces in the country.

When the floodlights were provided, the County Board said that it was the first official GAA county ground in Galway to have floodlights and they were committed to “a continuous and graduated agreed investment programme in those grounds to restore them to the highest standards”. That was back in 2014.

“It’s like a bomb hit it,” remarked Cllr Donohue as he was describing the current state of Duggan Park in Ballinasloe. He now wants officials from Galway County GAA Board to attend a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council to explain what is happening at the venue.

Duggan Park was originally opened in 1934 has gone through a series of major renovations to bring its facilities up to the required inter-county standard. But it was supposed to get another badly-needed facelift three years ago.

At the time, most of the terracing was dug up to facilitate the redevelopment of the ground but works came to a halt. Now, local councillors will be asking top GAA officials to account for the lack of development at the ground.

The works included the provision of a new stand and terracing, dressing rooms, new toilet facilities along with new turnstiles.