Louth insist stadium plans still on track
LOUTH have insisted that plans to develop their own inter-county grounds in conjunction with Dundalk Institute of Technology remain firmly on course.
The Wee County's lack of a high-tech inter-county venue was underlined again last weekend when the pitch at the O'Raghallaighs club in Drogheda, which doubles up as the county ground, was unable to host the Division 2 clash against Galway.
Louth chairman Padraic O'Connor stressed yesterday that the problem was not particular to the Drogheda venue, saying they had lined up two separate all-weather club pitches – at the Geraldines and Dundalk Gaels – as back-up, but even they were unsuitable due to the torrential rain.
But with capacity at O'Raghallaighs already down to just 3,500, the cancellation has once again raised questions about the delay in Louth developing its own ground. There has been little public movement on their proposed partnership with Dundalk IT recently, but O'Connor said an announcement on their new stadium is imminent.
The two bodies made a joint proposal to Dundalk Town Council back in September, seeking the transfer of land adjacent to the JJB sports complex into their ownership. O'Connor said they are still waiting on the final terms of that agreement but he expects to make a formal announcement "in the next few weeks". It is unprecedented for a third-level college to create such a partnership with a county board but Louth delegates agreed to the innovative idea in 2011.
The initial plan was to develop it on the existing college campus at a cost of €6m, with Louth and the GAA contributing €1.3m each. But when the JJB, a privately-owned indoor soccer complex, went into receivership last year there was a rethink. The plan now is to develop the JJB, and the adjoining town council land, to create a new 12,000-capacity GAA stadium.
The GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee meets today to decide the refixture dates for the Louth-Galway and Armagh-Wexford ties. This weekend has been ruled out due to the inter-provincial series.