€300,000 bill to make Pearse Park stand safe

The cordoned-off section section of the south west stand at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.
It has been revealed that an estimated €300,000 will have to be spent at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park to carry out essential remedial work on spectator stands that have been damaged by structural subsidence.

It has been revealed that an estimated €300,000 will have to be spent at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park to carry out essential remedial work on spectator stands that have been damaged by structural subsidence.

Longford GAA County Board commissioned Collins Boyd Engineers to compile a report and acting on recommendations, they’ve cordoned off sections of the stand (south west corner - affecting approximately 600 seats, and main stand, in addition to an area at the back of the south stand) for health and safety reasons.

Co Board Secretary Peter O’Reilly confirmed that club delegates were informed of the ‘very up-to-date position’ at last Tuesday’s Co Board meeting and patrons attending last weekend’s Allianz league fixtures at Pearse Park witnessed the areas that were cordoned off for themselves.

He added, “There is a job of work to be done and what way we go about addressing it will depend on the finance available.”

Progress on drawing up a plan to tackle the issue has been slightly slower than Longford chiefs would have liked owing to the recent changing of the guard in the upper echelons of the GAA.

The first meeting of National Committee Chairpersons since Aogan Ó Fearghail’s installation as President took place last Saturday and Longford have already sought an urgent meeting with the National Infrastructure Committee.

Mr O’Reilly explained, “Collins Boyd Engineers compiled a report on our behalf and there is a few ways of looking at it. At the end of the day, we’ll be governed by or will follow the lead that Croke Park give us because they have the expertise. And they will tell us,‘our engineer says this is fixable, do x, y and z and go out and get the costings. Or no, get in a bulldozer and dig it out of there’.”

The current reduced capacity of Pearse Park from 11,000 to 8,000 could impact on Longford’s ability to host future championship fixtures, particularly should they receive a glamour All-Ireland qualifier home draw.

The project to extend the stands commenced in late 2003 and it had a price tag of €750,000.

Croke Park and Leinster Council officials are aware of the issues and Mr O’Reilly is hoping a speedy resolution can be reached.

This setback for Longford GAA comes fast on the heels of the shelving of the planned €3m Centre of Excellence at Lyneen. €400,000 was spent on that project and when it was learned a further €900,000 would be required to address site issues, clubs voted to pull the plug. The 41 acre site at Lyneen is currently on the market so it’s possible a significant portion of the €400k will be recouped.

The training centre plan, however, was revived when the Board reached an agreement with main sponsors Glennon Brothers on a 99-year lease on a site within Carrigglas Manor.

Also see Talking Tactics column on Page 100.