Pearse Stadium closure for pitch revamp will see county finals move out of city

Pearse Stadium in Salthilll which will be closed until next February due to a major revamp of the pitch.
Pearse Stadium in Salthilll which will be closed until next February due to a major revamp of the pitch.

A substantial investment to revamp the playing surface at Pearse Stadium is set to leave the county’s leading GAA ground out of action until next Spring.

As a result, Galway GAA officials are set to look to Tuam Stadium and Kenny Park, Athenry, to host the county football and hurling finals at all grades over the coming weeks and months.

Over the past four weeks, a team of workers has undertaken remedial drainage works at the Salthill facility with the aim of transforming the pitch – which has been prone to occasional flooding – into one of the best grounds in the country.

“There was a window of opportunity to undertake remedial drainage works in recent weeks as the Galway senior footballers and hurlers had no home championship games this summer,” said Galway GAA CEO John Hynes this week.

“We took this opportunity. There was a lot of preparation work involved. We put in a new drainage system to make the pitch comparable to the best in the country. We are not going to take any chance on it and it’s important that the drainage system gets time to settle.”

Hynes said that players and supporters would see “significant improvements” to the playing surface when the ground is set to reopen for the National League matches next February.

“At this stage it is likely that Pearse Stadium will remain closed for games until the Spring of 2015. This is to ensure that the new playing surface has time to ‘bed-down’ and settle and that pitch maintenance programmes are completed,” he said.

He said staff at Pearse Stadium would be implementing a “proper maintenance programme” over the coming months and teams would notice a significant improvement to the playing surface next year.

“In the past, if we got a lot of rain, it would stay on the surface. There were games last year in the National Leagues, where we were playing teams from across the country, where we could only make the decision to go ahead after carrying out pitch inspections at 8am in the morning,” said Hynes.

He said no firm decisions had been made yet in relation to the venues for the 2014 county finals, although it looked as though Tuam would be used for the football and Kenny Park, Athenry, for the hurling decider.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.