Is €8m GAA investment good for the game in general?
A local councillor has questioned if an €8m investment in a new county GAA ground makes sense, compared to the possibility of constructing a similar stadium in Drogheda for less than half that amount.
Agreement was reached between the Louth County Board and Louth County Council to dispose of lands in Dundalk for the new ground. But according to Cllr Pio Smith this will be a big loss for Drogheda.
"It appears to me that the decision to play Louth games in Dundalk was a policy decision and that the efforts to keep county football in Drogheda was a half hearted exercise. Louth games have taken place in the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda for decades and from what I can gather the O'Raghallaigh's were willing to continue the relationship with the county board. Also, the Oliver Plunketts GAA Club in Drogheda contacted the County Board with a proposal to have the county grounds retained in the town but they never received a reply.'
He says the new ground at the Marshes in Dundalk will bring its own problems.
'For example, this land is below sea level and it will have to be raised by a metre at considerable expense,possibly costing €2m in order to allow building on a new stadium to begin. This is money that could have been used to promote Gaelic Games across the county. Also, the total cost of the new stadium will be approx €8m and this is in contrast to the €3.5m it would take to renovate the O'Raghallaigh's Ground. Is a new stadium really the better option and will clubs have to contribute to the cost?
'Furthermore, I believe that the County Board are interested in acquiring land from DKIT in order to complete the project. The question I have if this is true is will the new ground be solely for Gaelic football or will it be a multi sports arena. I can't see DKIT selling land solely for the purposes of Gaelic Football to be played on it.
"In my opinion a deal should have been reached with the O'Raghallaigh's, it would have cost less than the proposed project, it would have retained a sense of identity with the GAA in Drogheda and it would have allowed funds to be available to promote and encourage Gaelic Games to be played by the youth of the county."