UPGRADING works at Cusack Park in Ennis will begin on June 15, Clare GAA secretary Pat Fitzgerald has confirmed
“The contractor wants the site handed over in total. It’s an eight-month contract and the work must be completed by the end of the eight months,” Fitzgerald explained at a meeting of the GAA county board.
“There are other issues with the Cloister side. We went for planning and there are fairly significant costs involved with preparation, much more than €20,000, €30,000 or €40,000. More information was sought and the cost of preparing that won’t be far off €20,000,” he continued.
“Decisions have to be made,” the secretary went on adding, “We would have anticipated that we may be able to use the venue. If we don’t hand it over, the eight months may be much more, maybe 10, 11 or 12 months. The contractor has to be told”.
Responding to a query from Clonlara chairman, Flan Mullane, as to where the county finals would be played, board chairman Michael McDonagh said, “that will be a matter for the CCC”.
Fitzgerald added, “There are bigger questions. If Waterford beat Cork in the opening round of the Munster U-21 Hurling Championship, Clare will have a home game in the semi-final. There were 13,000 at the Munster final last year; that’s the first issue. What if Clare get a home game in the qualifiers? There would be a significant revenue loss if we can’t host these. We haven’t many alternatives. If we push it back, we will be clashing with the league next year and doing the work in winter time when daylight hours are less and there would also be issues with weather”.
Asked if the work could go ahead with the pitch used at the same time, the secretary said, “there are a whole lot of issues with that, particularly in relation to insurance”.
“We all need to understand the connotations of a building site with regard to health and safety. The contractor will have to have a say in this and health and safety will as well. The contractor will have to be indemnified. We have the money and the goodwill of the clubs for this project,” commented Munster Council delegate PJ McGuane.
The Cooraclare man suggested clubs who will be asked to host games will have to give consideration to foregoing their 15% venue percentage.
Asked if it would be possible to provide alternative facilities to allow games to go ahead while the work is in progress, Michael McDonagh replied, “I understand that mobile facilities are available but they are very very costly”.
“It’s a whole area we would have to look at,” said Fitzgerald.
By Seamus Hayes, sports editor