Update 9pm: Check out our gallery of the best images from an historic night at the revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium in Cork.
Update 7.30pm: Our videographer, Dan Linehan, was on hand to capture some of the sights and sounds from the Pairc in the lead up to and just after throw-in for for the Premier intermediate hurling championship game between Blarney and Valley Rovers.
A new era, in a new stadium, for Cork GAA has begun …
Update 6.47pm: The Cork County Board are opening the stadium tonight with spectators going to the venue for the Premier intermediate hurling championship game between Blarney and Valley Rovers able to access the whole stadium rather than just one section of the ground.
Ger Lane, chairman of the Cork County Board looks forward to the night ahead.
Earlier: Cork GAA chiefs have announced that almost 42,000 stand tickets have been sold for the two All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals taking place in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh this weekend, writes Denis Hurley.
The rebuilt stadium – currently estimated to cost €85m and has a capacity of 45,000 – holds its first game tonight as Blarney meet Valley Rovers in the Cork county premier intermediate hurling championship and members of the media were afforded a first look at the nearly-finished facility this afternoon.
Cork have also announced that Vodafone – rumoured as a possibility for naming rights on the ground – are to be the ground’s official technology partner, providing state-of-the-art wifi.
The North stand holds 13,000 people with room for 8,000 in the South Stand, and almost all stand tickets for the Tippeary-Clare game on Saturday and the meeting of Waterford and Wexford on Sunday have been sold.
While visitors to the previous stadium, which lasted from 1976-2014, may not always have had fond memories – especially in terms of leg-room in the cramped stands – Cork are keen to impress upon people that the experience of the new ground “will be markedly different” for patrons, players and officials.
Beneath the seating areas, players are catered for with a set-up very similar to Croke Park – indeed, the entrance tunnels are higher than GAA headquarters to ensure that there are no problems with large team buses.
Stadium operations manager Bob Ryan described the dressing room area as “the most modern in Europe” and the warm-up areas, physio and rehabilitation facilities and gymnasium are all considered to be of the highest standard.
The second pitch, which has seating for 760 people, has been the source of criticism for those who feel Cork should have a full centre of excellence, but the county board are keen to point out that the sharing of facilities has realised a cost-saving of €6.5m.
Those attending tonight’s game are urged to buy their tickets - €10, with U16s free – in advance, in selected SuperValu and Centra outlets.