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Ryan says grow light rigs the only solution to Páirc strife

The pitch at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
The pitch at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Cork County Board will have to make another significant investment in Páirc Uí Chaoimh with the purchase of grow-light rigs to help the pitch surface.

The surface was badly cut up during Sunday's double bill with much sand evident making conditions difficult for players not just in the second match, Cork's Allianz hurling League Division 1A defeat to Waterford, but also the preceding Division 2 football game which they also lost to Cavan.

After four games (two hurling, two football) at the €86m renovated venue, Cork's opening hurling league match against Kilkenny remains their only win there.

But of greater concern than a 25 per cent return for the home team is the condition of the pitch which, stadium director Bob Ryan acknowledged yesterday, was a "disappointment".

Ryan said the issue of "shading" due to the South Stand will have to be addressed by the purchase of the grow light rigs which are in regular use in Croke Park during the winter months and which pitch manager Stuart Wilson has described as "the single most important piece of technology we have."

Ryan says the pitch will be restored to good condition "within four to five weeks" but next year they may have to look at double bills being staged there.

"The level of growth has been very poor and we had a double bill on January 27 after the wettest January for years," he said.

"It's just impossible really to get recovery. We have an issue with shading from the new stand which will be addressed in the autumn/winter of next year. It's too late now. We have no doubt though that the pitch will be back in full nick in four to five weeks once it gets a bit of growth," he said.

The criticism of the surface was widespread after Sunday's games and while acknowledging that Cork too were disappointed, Ryan said there would always be teething problems with a surface like it.

"If the pitch was established, if it got a season to establish you could keep it right with the growth lights. We were disappointed with it," Ryan said. "The problem with it was it dried up all through the week. The sand that has been down there for six weeks, it then came up."

Ryan said it was never an option to cancel the curtain-raiser involving the Cork and Cavan footballers.

"Next year we'll have to take a different approach in relation to double bills in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at this time of year. Like any new lawn, it takes time to establish.

"I met this morning with our contractor, Stephen Forrest He's back in action getting it ready for whatever comes next. That's the only way we can deal with it."

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