SINCE its gates swung open for the first time, the brand new Páirc Uí Chaoimh has had very little luck.
Surface problems, the current Covid crisis, games being played behind closed doors and some county finals having to be put on hold, have made it a fairly difficult opening few years.
The year 2019 was very problematic with county finals being moved up the road to Páirc Uí Rinn because of ongoing work with the pitch, but things have got a whole lot better since and the old ground down the Marina now boasts one of the best playing surfaces in the country and beyond.
It has come in for heaps of praise in recent times, major games being played in the worst conditions imaginable but the new pitch coming through with flying colours.
Tipperary and Limerick faced each other in the Munster SHC on a day that you would not put a cat out and it was a similar story for Cork and Kerry in the Munster SFC.
Those days were the acid test for the new surface and when they were all over it was clearly obvious that the initial problems had been well and truly sorted out.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh now stands alongside Croke Park as having one of the best playing surfaces in the country and for that the Cork County Board deserve praise for undertaking the huge and costly task of sorting matters out.
Prior to that it wasn’t much good having one of the finest stadiums in Europe when the playing surface wasn’t up to scratch.
Now, everything is first class and the city has a facility second to none.
County Board PRO, Joe Blake told the Echo that the past few weeks have shown the stadium in an excellent light.
“Yes, there’s no doubt about that and I believe we now have a stadium and a pitch surface second to none, the surface is the best in the country, I believe.
“There were problems with the original pitch and basically we had to go back to the drawing board, to design a pitch that was specific to Páirc Uí Chaoimh and its surroundings. It had to be fit for purpose and to be able to have it in use for the entire year.
“I believe great credit should be given to the Board of Directors of the stadium and also the members of the Executive for approving the course of action that was taken."
Blake told the Echo that a number of people played a significant role in the development of the new pitch.
“Yes, John Murphy from Goldcrop was one of those heavily involved. He’s an expert in that field, based in Carrigtwohill while Stephen Forest of Turftech has a major role too, he is the stadium’s groundskeeper, doing a great job. SIS Pitches did a fantastic job in laying the new surface which is a stitched Hybrid Surface."
And the past few weeks have provided evidence of the excellent job that has been completed.
“You saw it recently with the Limerick and Tipperary game, Cork against Kerry, both games played in very inclement weather and the pitch standing up so well.
“We have had two games of camogie played there on the one day, games being played on consecutive days and we had three county finals there until the Covid crisis set in.
“So, I think, the new pitch has stood every test that was put to it and the only pity was that the games had to be played behind closed doors or in front of a few hundred people earlier on.
“But we look forward to the new season in 2021 and being in a position to exhibit to the public in the flesh what a magnificent job of work that was done in sorting out the problems.
“The pitch will continue to be well looked after by all concerned and, hopefully, we will get more games of importance going forward."
Yes, the work put in in the old home of Cork hurling and football has yielded a rich dividend and for many a long day to come, Páirc Uí Chaoimh is something that the people of Cork should be very proud of.
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