Thursday 25 December 2014

Province declares its ‘Independent’ streak with stadium deal

Published 28/03/2014 | 00:10

Chairman of Independent News & Media, Leslie Buckley, with Munster players Peter O’Mahony and Donncha O’Callaghan at Irish Independent Park, Cork. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Chairman of Independent News & Media, Leslie Buckley, with Munster players Peter O’Mahony and Donncha O’Callaghan at Irish Independent Park, Cork. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

ONE of Ireland’s most hallowed sports grounds has received a proud new name as two of the country’s most successful teams have united to herald an exciting new rugby era.

Independent News & Media (INM) and Munster Rugby have extended their successful sponsorship agreement with Cork’s historic Musgrave Park now to be renamed Irish Independent Park.

The branding is one of the key elements of an exciting 10-year partnership deal between Munster Rugby and INM.

The ground first opened in 1940 and has been the focus of major redevelopment over the past decade.

It ranks as one of the most famous rugby grounds in the country and witnessed the first triumph by an Irish provincial side over international tourists when Australia were beaten in 1967.

In 1973 it also saw the Reds earn a famous draw against the touring All-Blacks.

In 1992, the ground witnessed one of Munster's finest achievements when Australia, the reigning world champions, were also defeated.

A key element of the Munster Rugby/INM partnership will be assistance with ongoing ground redevelopment.

“Munster Rugby is delighted that INM have committed to such a significant, long-term partnership,” Munster Rugby chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said.

“The naming of Irish Independent Park allows Munster Rugby to progress on our redevelopment of the grounds and commit to our rugby future here. Cork is a vital element of Munster Rugby’s success and we are happy that Irish Independent Park will be central to rugby development in the region.”

INM chairman Leslie Buckley said it was a very proud day for both organisations. “This is hallowed ground for Munster rugby and particularly for Cork supporters,” he said.

“The Irish Independent has a strong affinity with Munster rugby which is underpinned by our weekly rugby pullout exclusively for our Munster readers. We now look forward to positively and successfully building upon that relationship.”

Mr Buckley said the partnership is particularly special for him as he lives only a stone's throw from the famous ground.

Ambitious

INM chief executive Vincent Crowley said the agreement is also great news for rugby development at youth level.

“Irish Independent Park is a further demonstration of our continued support in helping to encourage and build the game of rugby in schools, clubs and at provincial level,” he said.

The facility was named in 1940 for the long-serving Irish rugby official, Jimmy Musgrave.

Over eight decades it has been graced by Munster’s greatest players including Tony Ward, Donal Lenihan, Ronan O’Gara, Moss Keane, Mick Galwey, Anthony Foley and Peter Clohessy.

On June 21, Irish Independent Park will host a high-profile concert by the multi-award winning classical group Il Divo.

Munster Rugby has ambitious plans for the 10,000 capacity Cork stadium – including a state-of-the-art new West Stand.

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