Work began this week on the project which will enable the Déise county board to ease the pressure on their club championship schedule by organising midweek games at the 6,750 capacity ground and also hold intercounty National League matches on Saturday nights. It is envisaged that work will be completed on the project within six weeks with funding secured from a combination of Munster Council and Central Council grants. Waterford county board chairman Tom Cunningham revealed they have provisionally pencilled in the Munster U21FC opening round clash between Waterford and Tipperary on March 9th as the opening game to be played under floodlights at the venue. Plans are also in place to host the NFL Division 3 clash between Waterford and Tipperary on Saturday March 12th under floodlights, provided there is no complications by the scheduling of the NHL Division 1 clash between Cork and Waterford for the venue the following day.
“The work began last Monday on putting in the floodlights in the Fraher Field and we’d be hoping to have everything ready and in place by early March. As regards the opening game, we’re looking at Wednesday March 9th when Waterford are due to play Tipperary in the Munster U21 football first round. That’s our target and hopefully we will have the floodlights in by then. We also want to play senior league games there and the plan would be to hold the senior football league game between Waterford and Tipperary on a Saturday night as well. Before we finalise that though, we need to check there will be no problems with the hurling game there the following day.
“It’s a really big development for Waterford GAA. The cost is in the region of €500,000 which we have got through GAA grants. Games played at night under floodlights have shown to be very attractive in other counties and now we’ll have that facility in the county. Towards the end of this season we’ll be hoping to use the venue to hold club games at night. It’ll be a big help in getting games played, particularly with our own U21 hurling championship which is a competition that can often drag on.”
Cunningham also revealed that the board encountered no obstacles when applying for planning permission which has allowed the project to proceed unhindered. That is in marked contrast to other counties with the Mayo county board enduring a high-profile saga in their efforts to install floodlights at McHale Park in Castlebar.
“When we applied for planning permission, we received no objections at all which meant we were able to press ahead with the development. For that we very much appreciate the support that we have got from the community in Dungarvan and all the residents near the Fraher Field.”