Cricket Ireland eyes new Abbotstown stadium
Cricket Ireland has announced plans to build a new stadium on a green-field site at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, after appearing to finally lose patience with the slow progress being made on developing facilities at Malahide.
The picturesque private ground in the shadow of Malahide Castle will still be the setting for the historic first Test match against Pakistan in May, two T20s against India in June and other future fixtures but in the medium to long term the majority of internationals will be hosted in west Dublin.
The official reason is the increased number of home matches - probably a dozen a year as Ireland become part of the ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP) - but the problems related to planning permission and dealing with what is still a private cricket club are also behind the decision.
"We anticipate that the new FTP will be finalised in April this year and is likely to involve the senior men alone playing about 60 home matches over the next five seasons," Warren Deutrom, the CEO of Cricket Ireland, explained.
"That number doesn't include women's or youth internationals, men's Inter-Pros and women's Super 3s and what has become abundantly clear is that we will need to share the load beyond our four existing international-standard grounds: Malahide, Clontarf, Stormont and Bready."
After extensive earth-moving in Malahide to turn the square and create viewing mounds, Cricket Ireland wanted to build a pavilion sweeping around a third of the ground, housing offices as well as corporate and entertainment facilities, but their plans ran into numerous obstacles.
No permanent stands of any sort have been constructed at Malahide - not as much as a public toilet block - and even the staging of Ireland's first Test match was the subject of debate and could not be announced along with dates for the fixture.
As if to underline the need for the new facility, Ireland yesterday announced six fixtures against Afghanistan in August, three T20s at Bready in Co Tyrone followed by three one-day internationals at Stormont in Belfast.