The GAA’s director of communications has said that a combination of suitable weather and familiarity with the task mean that this week’s re-laying of the Croke Park pitch has gone as smoothly as possible.
Four matches will be played on a partly new pitch for the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals this weekend after a section in front of Hill 16 was taken up in preparation for U2’s concert at the stadium last Saturday.
The same happened prior to Coldplay’s gig at GAA headquarters on July 8. After Dublin’s win over Kildare on July 16, their manager Jim Gavin was critical of the surface.
“The groundsmen did an excellent job — an outstanding job to turn it around so quick,” he told Newstalk, “but going into a provincial final, is that the right thing to do, to be replacing that part of the pitch? I could see both sets of players slipping in that part. It was very hard, that’s one thing I’d say about it.”
However, GAA director of communications Alan Milton is confident that there won’t be any problems this weekend. In 2009, after another U2 concert, staff had just three days to relay the pitch ahead of the football quarter-finals, and things are not as fraught this time.
“It’s something that the groundstaff would be very used to at this stage,” he says.
“It has happened on quite a few occasions and there has been sufficient time this week to carry out all of the work, even though it was quite a busy week and there might have been extra hands required.
“Ninety-nine percent of the work would have been carried out by our own people, it’s quite specialised work but it has also been done effectively. It was put to Jim after the Leinster final and he commented, but that’s the first time we have have observations like that.
“It’s only the area where the stage is, because it would otherwise be under a severe weight. There’s extreme testing done before and after the grass goes down.” Weather conditions during the week have also worked to the GAA’s favour.
“Stuart Wilson (pitch manager) said that it was a good combination of temperature and moisture,” Milton said. “These are the key factors and so that has been beneficial. We’re happy that it will be of the highest standard at the weekend and for the rest of the championship.”
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