Sky Sports’ GAA debut to feature Kilkenny’s roofless stand

Sky Sports’ GAA debut will feature a roofless stand as a new one won’t be ready in time for the Leinster SHC quarter-final between Kilkenny and Offaly in Nowlan Park on June 7.

The British broadcasters begin their championship coverage with the Saturday evening game in Kilkenny, but their viewers’ first experience of live GAA will feature only the Old Stand’s steel frame.

A large part of the 1,800-capacity roof was blown off during a violent storm on February 12 with the remainder of it removed for health and safety reasons. Despite the issue, all three of Kilkenny’s Division 1A games went ahead at Nowlan Park.

County chairman Ned Quinn conceded the new roof on the Old Stand on the O’Loughlin Road side of the venue won’t be in place for their provincial opener.

“We have applied for planning permission to re-roof the stand,” he said. “We sent in our application a few weeks ago and it usually takes about eight weeks (to process).

“We’re in discussions at the moment and they (insurance people) haven’t yet arrived at their conclusions for the damage caused. I can say now that the roof will not be back in place by June 7. From the start of the process to the end, you’re talking a four-month job.”

As with the Paddy Grace and Ted Carroll Stands which were only redeveloped in recent years, the new roof is likely to be manufactured elsewhere before being lifted into place onto the existing frame.

The previous structure was an asbestos roof and a specialist contractor was appointed to clear up the stand and the surrounding areas. Roads had to be closed to gather the debris but the asbestos risk was deemed low.

The lack of a roof has been the source of amusement for some in the county with one local wag recently suggesting they didn’t need to pay a TV sports subscription as they would be able to see the sky sitting in the stand!

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