Semple Stadium closed until May: Could we see astroturf in Tom Semple's field?

Semple Stadium closed until May: Could we see astroturf in Tom Semple's field?
Ground staff at Semple Stadium hard at work

The prospect of inter-county hurling on astroturf is growing on Tipperary GAA secretary Tim Floyd, after he confirmed that Semple Stadium will be closed for pitch repairs until May 1.

The Thurles surface looked notably bare in sections when Clare visited last Sunday in the Allianz Football League.

“It’s gone very patchy now, a lot of brown areas,” Floyd admitted. “It just needs serious attention and the only way you can do it is by closing it.

“It’s normal that we close it a few weeks to do resodding. But we said we’d close it for April because the surface needs a lot of remedial work.

“There’s a certain amount of reseeding to be done. There’s spiking of the surface. There's some sanding. And then the goalmouths have to be resodded.”

Floyd attributed the state of the pitch to the heavy programme of games it has staged.

“There’s been an intensive amount of matches. Way more than usual. There’s no real recovery with no growth and then with bad weather, it has taken a fair bashing.

“Especially in the winter months we are killing our pitches.”

To rectify the worst issues, Tipp will consider laying astroturf outside the touchline on the Kinane Stand side.

“We’re trying to do major work down the sidelines which have got a heavy battering from all the subs warming up. Guys running up and down constantly on them in the bad weather.

“We’re even considering putting astroturf there, but we haven’t decided yet. It’s trying to get it to blend in with the natural grass, so you don’t do damage going from one to the other. You want a seamless connection between the two.

“Even where the team managers are standing. That whole designated area is in a bad state.”

And Floyd is beginning to see a day when Tom Semple’s field is entirely artificial.

“If you had asked me that 12 months ago, I would have thought it was an alien thing. But when I see rugby being played on 3G pitches — and

you’d imagine there’s a more physical issue of guys hitting the ground in rugby — and they don’t seem to have any problem... If they can do it in rugby, we should be able to do it with hurling.

“Unfortunately, in Tipperary we don’t have a full-sized hurling all-weather 3G pitch in the county. It’s a bit of a disadvantage but it’s something that’s going to have to be done in all counties.

“Cork have one in Páirc Uí Chaoimh (4G). Limerick have one in UL, there’s one in WIT. It’s a must. But it’s a heavy capital investment and the maintenance is costly as well.

“The likes of the Munster Co-Op League should definitely be played on them, because those games do serious damage to pitches.

“With the week we spent training in Alicante, that was all on 3G pitches. It didn’t seem to make a difference."

Semple will not now stage the Croke Cup final between St Kieran’s Kilkenny and Presentation Athenry or the Paddy Buggy Cup final between St Raphael’s Loughrea and Castlecomer CS.

It is due to host Tipp v Limerick in the Munster SFC on May 11 before Waterford visit on May 19 in the Munster SHC. And Floyd insists there is no danger of the pitch not being ready in time.

“That’s priority. The first of May is the deadline we’ve given ourselves to have it ready. We’re not going to give up our home games. It will luscious grass in May, don’t worry.”

Meanwhile, fears that Joe Canning had suffered a long-term injury in Sunday’s Division 1 semi-final have been allayed. The 2017 hurler of the year was stretchered off the Nowlan Park field and it has transpired he suffered a bad dead leg.

The injury should sideline Canning for only a few weeks.

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