It had been well flagged up that grow-lighting rigs were needed for Páirc Uí Chaoimh

It had been well flagged up that grow-lighting rigs were needed for Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Picture: Larry Cummins

WERE you one of the 6,827 souls who braved the cold in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday?

Sadly, two pairs of trousers, two pairs of socks, a jacket, hat and gloves couldn’t stop us shivering (we even picked up some windburn in the upper tier of the South Stand) but don’t cry for us – we wouldn’t expect it and we wouldn’t deserve it.

Being paid to be there obviously made it an easier struggle than those who woke up on Sunday and opted to make the trip down the Marina, but sadly we can’t imagine there were many who felt that the €20 outlay (€15 if booked online beforehand, to be fair) was value for money.

Obviously, the events on the pitch wouldn’t have provided a huge amount of solace, though five points for Michael Hurley in the football match and four for Aidan Walsh in the hurling were at least bright spots, giving hope for future days out.

As well as what happened on the pitch, though, the turf itself was unsurprisingly a point of contention. 

When the five-year plan for Cork football was launched last month, TV news interviews had the pitch as a backdrop and tractor tyre marks were more than conspicuous, raising fears as to its health, and sadly they were realised on Sunday.

One witticism in the press box was that the national ploughing championships were going well and the cut-up nature of the grass was quite noticeable. 

However, it was interesting to hear the comments of Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald after his side’s four-point win over Cork in the second game, the hurling tie, when the pitch had already had to withstand the football clash against Kildare.

Knowing that the surface was going to be less than ideal, the Clare native felt that attitude was important.

“That depends on your mindset,” he said. “We knew before the game that the surface was pretty bad, and you can see that we knock the ball around pretty okay, whether it’s ball to hand or on the ground.

“We made up our minds that no matter what the surface was like – you’re coming down thinking things will be pretty good, the stadium is incredible and I love it, so it’s a pity about the top of the surface.

“It’s actually quite solid, I don’t know why it’s tearing on top as much as it is. 

"Even when I was a player one place I loved coming was down here. They need to have a look at it, I’m sure they’ll get it right.”

The pitch surface cut up in the shadow of the South Stand at last year's PIHC final. Picture: Larry Cummins
The pitch surface cut up in the shadow of the South Stand at last year's PIHC final. Picture: Larry Cummins

We’re loath to repeat ourselves but, back when the new stadium was about to open, we spoke to Stephen Forrest of TurfTech, the firm which looks after the pitch. 

The fact that the main stand is twice as tall as the previous structure was something which would have to be dealt with.

“We’re lucky that the north stand roof doesn’t have an impact until late in the evening for a short period of the time,” he said.

“The roof on the south stand is obviously considerably bigger than it used to be and that will have an impact during the winter months. 

"The use of the grow-lighting rigs will be needed to combat that in the winter.”

Those rigs are essential in keeping the Croke Park pitch in such good shape all year round and a set was tested in the Páirc last April but there has been no further information on the subject provided since then.

One would have to imagine that, with the pitch in the condition it is, that they are not being used and presumably that is down to cost issues. 

With so many other financial considerations surrounding the stadium – not least the overall cost – it’s understandable that things have to be cut back but at the same time it’s important to focus on priorities and having a good pitch should be classed as such.

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