Long-awaited artificial pitch destroyed

Two Limerick secondary schools have been left reeling after losing their long-awaited artificial hockey pitch to Saturday’s floods.

Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ and Laurel Hill Secondary FCJ had been sharing the facility at the Dock Rd, which was opened in September 2012 after years of planning and fundraising.

But with the Shannon bursting its banks on Saturday morning, causing what Limerick city and county manager Conn Murray called “extraordinary, unprecedented flooding”, up to 1m of water entered the grounds, submerging the entire pitch.

Laurel Hill Coláiste director of hockey Christine O’Shea spent the morning attempting to salvage equipment and goalkeeper gear from adjacent storage facilities.

“It is totally unbelievable — the school is now without a pitch for the unknown future, and we’ll have to travel for our home games,” she said.

“We’ve waited years for an Astro-turf pitch of our own, and something like this never happened when the grit pitches were there — typical. The water has drained off the pitch but the carpet is all over the place.”

As well as warping the pitch’s carpet, contaminated flood water can render an artificial surface useless, as happened to University College Cork’s pitch at the Mardyke in November 2009.

The university’s eight teams were left without a home for five months while the pitch was replaced.

The Laurel Hill facility, which was not home to any club teams, will need to be inspected by insurers in the coming weeks to assess the extent of the damage.


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