Tuesday 10 December 2019

Munster's stadium madness defies all logic

Clare manager Colm Collins Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Clare manager Colm Collins Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Together with 3,342 others, I was in the Gaelic Grounds last Sunday for the Limerick-Clare Munster football quarter-final.

That left around 45,000 empty places in a stadium whose capacity was last tested in 2013 when Limerick beat Cork in the Munster hurling final.

Playing a game in stadium that's almost 95 per cent empty isn't exactly conducive to a good atmosphere, although Colm Collins and his Clare team won't have minded as they booked a date with Kerry.

Munster has always been over-subscribed with excessively large grounds, with only a few games having any chance of testing their capacity. Yet, the folly has continued. Quite why it was deemed prudent to redevelop Páirc Uí Chaoimh as a 45,000-stadium at a cost of €78million remains a mystery.

On average, its capacity will be required once a year - and not at all in some years - so why the need to have it so big?

The answer, of course, is that there was no way that Cork was going to be left outside the stadium loop, especially since Limerick, Tipperary and Kerry have such large grounds.

In reality, Semple Stadium is the only one that makes sense, since it's well-located as the GAA's second major stadium after Croke Park. Besides, it has the emotional tie of being in the GAA's birthplace.

If logic prevailed, Semple Stadium would be upgraded as a smaller version of Croke Park and used for all Munster's big events as well as NHL finals and other games as required.

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Lower-capacity (20,000) stadiums, built for comfort and atmosphere, would suffice in all other Munster counties.

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