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Monday 19 March 2018

Croke Park turf war erupts after Irish growers snubbed

Majella O'Sullivan

A NEW turf war has broken out in the GAA.

The association has claimed "time constraints" were behind the decision to hire an English firm to oversee the re-sodding of Croke Park in Dublin before and after the Take That concerts on June 18 and 19.

But it has been heavily criticised by Irish turf growers after it hired the Yorkshire-based consultancy firm Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) to grow the grass.

And Clive Richardson Ltd, based in Armagh, was then hired to put down the grass -- with the work costing the GAA €150,000 in total.

A GAA spokesman said time constraints meant the association used STRI, the same company it had used to re-sod Croke Park following the U2 concerts in 2009, and did not invite tenders for the work.

"The first time around extensive testing took place on Irish 'manufactured' turf but it was not suitable," a spokesman told the Irish Independent.

"Turf used in other quick turnaround re-sodding was sourced in England and used and explanations were given at the time for that decision.

"The same operation was implemented this time."

In 2009, the re-sodding project cost €1.2m -- but was considered a much larger job, partly because of the stage involved. U2 paid for 30pc of that fee.

But Irish turf growers have reacted angrily, saying they have been excluded from even pricing the jobs.

John Hourigan of Limerick Instant Lawns Ltd said: "Why there was no one from the Republic of Ireland asked to price the job is the big question."

Another grower said: "There's something going on and it's rotten when all this money is going abroad and young GAA players are having to emigrate to find work, and meanwhile, the GAA is giving money hand over fist to an English company."

Irish Independent

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