Waterford will play their two home Munster SHC games outside Walsh Park this summer after concerns were raised by clubs about the number of tickets available, writes John Fogarty.
As the Irish Examiner reported last week, there were serious doubts that the Waterford city venue would be in a position to be a viable Championship venue due to health and safety necessities reducing the capacity to approximately 8,000.
That was in spite of an affirmation by the county board in January that Walsh Park would be ready for provincial championship action, which it hasn’t seen since 2003.
Semple Stadium and Páirc Uí Chaoimh now look like they host the matches, although Waterford are likely to seek that Páirc Uí Chaoimh host their “home” game against Tipperary on June 3 and the Thurles venue stage the game against Cork on June 17.
There is also the possibility Waterford will strike a deal to play both matches at one of the venues, but they will be keen not to cede home advantage to either rival even though they have been regular visitors to Thurles and have won both their games so far at the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Previously, former county secretary Timmy O’Keeffe spoke about the idea of Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park becoming Waterford’s alternative home venue. Nowlan Park is free on both dates.
Speaking to WLR FM, Waterford chairman Paddy Joe Ryan said the discussions with other counties to host the Tipperary and Cork games were ongoing.
Work is now expected to commence shortly on redeveloping the grounds, bringing the capacity up to as much as 12,000, so that it is ready for the 2019 Championship.