Board asking clubs and county to get behind new plans

CLUBS in Co Louth have a lot of thinking to do over the next couple of weeks as the County Board unveiled new proposals for a Co Ground last week.

CLUBS in Co Louth have a lot of thinking to do over the next couple of weeks as the County Board unveiled new proposals for a Co Ground last week.

With three options available – Drogheda, Darver and DkIT – there is pros and cons associated with each individual ground, giving club delegates a lot of food for thought.

However, in order to move in the right direction as regards a county ground, Louth County Board Chairman Padraic O’Connor stated that Louth need to work together and act as a unit.

“Our big challenge will be to finance for whatever venture. But we cannot go forward until we are on the same page.”

There is expected to some opposition from southern clubs towards moving to DkIT whilst some delegates have a loyalty to Darver. There is also those who are cagey about shareing with other sports at the college, though it is believed most north Louth clubs would relish the chance to forge ahead at DkIT.

On Wednesday last in The Grove, treasurer Aidan Berrill give the presentation to clubs, followed by a similar one to the media.

In the pitch, Berrill said that the days of building stadiums to accommodate more than 20,000 spectators were gone as these grounds are only full once every five years and carry huge maintenance costs.

The Treasurer stated that the emphasis now within the GAA is on health and safety, with 7,000 – 8,000 stadiums being the new target for projects.

All proposals are subject to planning permission though it is understood that acquiring permission for further expansion of Darver would be extremely difficult to attain.

The roads around Darver are quite narrow and Louth County Council would also have to get on board in order to make it work. Currently there is only space for 80 vehicles at Darver so increasing this to 2,500 would take a huge effort.

Speaking on the three options, Padraic O’Connor said: “Drogheda if redeveloped could be a nice, small compact ground. We would not need to upgrade it for a while if we go with what is in the plans.

“Planning permission and land acquisition for Darver could be difficult and the third option, DkIT with a multi-purpose ground could be interesting.”

County Board Secretary Des Halpenny said he understood if clubs wanted some more time to think on the decision. He said: “Everyone needs to be sure of what they are doing and what is on offer. It’s a big decision for people.”

Declan Byrne, vice-Chairman echoed his comments. “We want this to be a majority decision between the clubs as that is the only way we can go forward.”

One of the main challenges ahead is obviously the costs associated with all projects, something Mr O’Connor acknowledged.

“We are at an advantage as costs in construction are down from what they were ten years ago but at the same time, our patrons have a lot less income.

“It is for this reason that we need to move in the right direction as a unit.”