Leinster counties urged to improve grounds

Leinster GAA’s top official has hit out at individual counties for their lack of innovation regarding new infrastructure projects.

Provincial chairman Martin Skelly highlighted the fact that just three grounds in Leinster (outside Croke Park) – Meath’s Páirc Tailteann, Parnell Park and Portlaoise’s O’Moore Park – have adequate floodlights for evening games.

He warned that, in practice, counties like Carlow could be forced to give up home advantage and play in Portlaoise if drawn to play at night in upcoming U21 championships.

“With Offaly, there’s question marks about them as well,” said Skelly. “There’s question marks in Louth and these are the things that if we want to drive on with midweek floodlit competitions, then counties are going to have to get their act together and press on to improve their grounds and have better facilities for our patrons.”

Skelly pointed to ambitious projects in Munster and Ulster where major redevelopment works are planned for Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Casement Park in Belfast.

But there’s little in the way of structural improvement planned for Leinster venues anytime soon. Many counties will naturally respond that they simply don’t have the money to do so.

Meath, for example, revealed debts for 2012 of nearly €200,000 at Monday night’s annual convention.

As for Kildare, who have seen the capacity of their St Conleth’s Park base in Newbridge slashed to 6,200 by health and safety chiefs, they are in dire straits with a €700,000 cash advance already required this year from Croke Park.

“We will always support projects,” stated Skelly.

“But the silence, and it worries me as provincial chairman, coming from our counties at the moment is deafening, in terms of major improvements.

“If we really want to do something about the fixture chaos, we’ll have to provide better match facilities, particularly for during the winter.”

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