Sunday 18 November 2018

Croker stands up to Mother Nature

Jones Road outside Croke Park became impassable after
Saturday's GAA clash between Kerry and Galway
Jones Road outside Croke Park became impassable after Saturday's GAA clash between Kerry and Galway

Ronan Flanagan

Last Saturday, fans due to travel the following day to Croker must have wondered if the games would go ahead at all, such were the monsoon conditions. That evening, according to Met Eireann, 72mm of rain per hour fell. Amazingly, the Croke Park pitch is capable of taking twice that amount.

"It was never in doubt. We had it renovated after the Leinster final and it is in perfect condition. Croke Park is designed and tested around an engineered storm," said Richard Hayden of STRI, which looks after its maintenance. "It's not a matter of going away and letting the grass grow either. We are at that pitch seven days a week. The management of it is so important."

The ground staff were there until nearly midnight on Saturday and put in 14-hour days to ensure the pitch was in top condition. And Hayden says he needs to credit the three unsung heroes of Jones Road who put in serious graft last weekend. Groundsmen Robert Ellis, Paddy Walsh and Marcel Bantea take a bow.

Water machine Hogs the limelight

O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, saw the debut of a very special machine last weekend as the rains threatened to wreak havoc on local club fixtures.

The 'Water Hog' was called on to remove surface water from the pitch. The 'Hog' resembles a big ride-on lawnmower with a roller at the back designed to soak up water on the ground before spraying it onto the empty terraces.

"We were sceptical about it, but after seeing it in action I have to say that it's a wonderful machine," said Laois official Gerry Kavanagh.

The 'Water Hog' is used extensively in cricket and Premiership grounds in England and it saved three club matches in Laois last weekend.

"It saved a match on Saturday night and then on Sunday we had it out again. It lifted around 2,000 litres of water in just under three hours and the two games went ahead no problem that afternoon. It was amazing," said Kavanagh.

Hot shots battle for Golden Boots

As we are entering the territory where players win and lose their Allstar prospects, the men up front will also be looking at another individual award in the form of the Golden Boot.

In football the two top scorers are already gone. Currently in pole position is Kildare's John Doyle (above) with a combined total of 32 points followed by Limerick's Ian Ryan.

The only man within a shout is Matty Forde, who trails Doyle by five points. And, considering the year that the Model County legend is having, the top scorer gong is well within reach.

In hurling, Dublin's David O'Callaghan and Galway star Joe Canning are tied on 39 points with Eoin Kelly of Waterford. The Decies free-taker will surely take top spot after this weekend's encounter with Tipp. Nine points back, but definitely in contention, is Henry Shefflin.

On this weekend

Dublin 2-11 Tyrone 0-8

All-Ireland SF semi-final, August 19, 1984

Reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin swept to a runaway win as the two sides met for the first time in the championship. Tyrone didn't score for 28 minutes and were easily brushed aside as Barney Rock scored 1-7. The attendance of 39,915 was less than half what's expected for tomorrow's quarter-final clash.

Bet of the week

Do you fancy Paul Caffrey's Dublin to be all the way winners against Tyrone tomorrow or will Mickey Harte's men stun the boys in blue?

Ladbrokes are offering odds of 3/1 on Dublin scoring first, to be leading at half-time and winning the game.

On the other hand, odds of 9/1 are available on Tyrone performing the same feat in the big game at Croker.


"We need a good tough, physical game if we want to go all the way this year." -- Dublin's Bernard Brogan on Tyrone.

"Everybody was writing us off, but we pay no attention to that. We have a full panel of 32 players, and we just have to battle on." -- Martin Penrose feels Tyrone are not finished yet.

"I think on their day they are the best forward line in the country and I don't think there are too many who would disagree with that." -- Tipp boss Liam Sheedy on Waterford.


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