'Dangerous' Páirc Uí Chaoimh pitch criticised by ex-players

Former Waterford All-Star Ken McGrath called it "dangerous" and "not suitable for any sport", while Cork's previous goalkeeper Dónal Óg Cusack called for no more games to be played there until the pitch is in a "playable" condition.

'Dangerous' Páirc Uí Chaoimh pitch criticised by ex-players

The Páirc Uí Chaoimh pitch has been roundly criticised for its poor condition for yesterday's double-header of League games.

Former Waterford All-Star Ken McGrath called it "dangerous" and "not suitable for any sport", while ex-Cork goalkeeper Dónal Óg Cusack called for no more games to be played there until the pitch is in a "playable" condition.

The Cork venue has had issues with its new pitch ever since it opened after redevelopment 18 months ago. The area underneath the South Stand is worst affected, with players losing their footing on the disintegrating turf and the sliotar falling into the remaining divots during the second game.

Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna told the Irish Examiner in December the pitch would need "some fairly aggressive remedial work", although he said the winter weather may limit those efforts.

However, a statement from the board of directors of Páirc Uí Chaoimh said the work would "be completed ahead of the commencement of the Allianz Leagues" to "ensure it will be capable of hosting games fixed for Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2019".

"It's an absolute shambles. You're expecting a better surface than that. Even to play a Gaelic [football] game before that when you know the pitch isn't right, you'd wonder who made that decision," said McGrath on RTÉ's Allianz League Sunday.

"I love Páirc Uí Chaoimh but that pitch is shocking. It's not suitable for any sport, never mind hurling, which is a summer sport. It's dangerous."

Fellow panelist and former Tipperary star Brendan Cummins added: "The last thing you want to do is play a game in a paddy-field like that. A lot of soul-searching has to be done. Do they move the game from Páirc Uí Chaoimh the next day?"

Former Cork goalkeeper Dónal Óg Cusack tweeted that the pitch was "brutal" and added he hopes "for players' and game's sake no more [matches are played] there until it is playable", suggesting Páirc Uí Rinn as a better alternative.

"The whole saga now seems to be one thing after another for Cork GAA. It's very disappointing from a Cork perspective," former Cork player and selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan told Paddy Power News.

"The issue with the field has been there quite some time, under the south stand the pitch is not getting direct sunlight at this time of year. The ground isn't getting the chance to dry out.

"No player wants to play on that, be it a club player or an intercounty lad. You can't express yourself and it's going to slow you down. It's adding fuel to the fire of the already muddy waters and it’s not what anyone wants. The sooner it's done and dusted the better."

However, he believes Cork need to keep their games at Páirc Uí Chaoimh with an eye towards the Championship.

"Cork are ultimately going to be playing Munster Championship games in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, that's where they need to be playing to get used to the conditions for their round-robin Championship games. Cork need to be playing in the Páirc for me.

"You have to look at the bigger picture. If the chance is there to play in Pairc Ui Chaoimh - regardless of the surface - it's game practice in your home ground and you can never have enough of it."

Meanwhile, former Cork captain Tomás Mulcahy told RTÉ Radio One: "The pitch was in a horrible state for hurling.

"There were lumps of sod all over the pitch. Players were going to pick the ball and failed to pick it; not just the first time - you could excuse that at this time of the year - but four and five times failing to pick up the ball. It was falling into holes and a lot of throws-in.

"It was disappointing from a Cork perspective on that basis alone to have the pitch in the way that it was.

"It can't be weather related because we've had the same weather in Cork that we've had in Donegal or all over the country. Let's be honest, there is an issue there at this stage.

"There's no excuse for it."

The final cost of the project is disputed. Cork GAA chair Tracey Kennedy told their annual convention in December the price stood at €86m. However, the GAA's Peter McKenna told the Irish Examiner the cost has risen closer to €110m after the GAA HQ took over the running of the stadium.

McKenna has said the "unstable" pitch will need to be replaced, although the stadium's board of directors said a replacement of the pitch was "not expected in the short-term".

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