Tuesday 12 December 2017

Parnell not big enough anymore says Dubs legend John O'Leary

Municipal facilities may ease infrastructure shortfall

Pictured at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour is former All-Ireland winning Dublin captain John O'Leary
Pictured at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour is former All-Ireland winning Dublin captain John O'Leary

JOHN O'Leary reckons "it's only a question of economics" as to when Dublin GAA moves from its current home in Parnell Park.

Whilst admitting to an emotional attachment to the Donnycarney venue, O'Leary acknowledges the surge in popularity of Gaelic games in Dublin has rendered Parnell Park too small for purpose.

"As the game has expanded, as the Dublin fanbase has expanded, particularly for the league matches, you do need another ground, particularly for a 30 or 40,000 capacity," O'Leary explained.

The county board's recent failed bid to buy the NAMA-controlled 35-acre property at the Spawell in Templeogue has highlighted the inherent difficulties in acquiring land in the city to develop infrastructure badly needed due an unprecedented boom in playing numbers in both football and hurling over the past five years.

At present, Dublin has no centre of excellence comparable with Tyrone's in Garvaghey or the €5.8 project Kerry expect to be completed in the next 18 months at Currans.

Dublin will invest €2m to establish a base at the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown currently under construction but with the senior football team having played their home League matches in Croke Park since 2011, the need for a mid-sized stadium - one that could, in theory, have been built at the Spawell site - has again been highlighted.

Several mooted locations - most recently in Abbotstown - have not as yet resulted in any definitive plan.

"While there might be a great will to do it, I think economics will be the bottom line," said O'Leary, the 1995 All-Ireland winning captain.

"And then, if you build it, what's the sustainability of it after that.

"Or would you co-locate with some other sport? Maybe have it going all the time as a sort of community project for Dublin, with maybe soccer and rugby and other sports using it as well.

"But I think it is inevitable in some way that we need to expand to have something that's between Croke Park and Parnell Park (in terms of capacity) and can cater for a crowd double the size of Parnell.


"Then you can get your home League games out of Croke Park and maybe some of your home Championship games. It'd be interesting to see it."

Dublin GAA CEO John Costello was highly critical of NAMA's decision to overlook the Dublin bid in favour of a higher offer, pointing out the social benefits of establishing such a sporting centre in a densely populated part of the city.

"There has been lots of opportunities for the likes of NAMA or people who had a property portfolio to do something for the sports community," O'Leary pointed out.

"So I would be going from the GAA angle, I'd be going at it from a sporting angle for the town itself. Because there are lots of sports crying out for facilities.

"At local level, there are lots of kids playing two or three sports and lots of people organising teams in two or three sports.

"From a community point of view, it is a pity that NAMA couldn't do something like that. Something that would be part of the Dublin culture.

"The point is that maybe we need a couple of those around the county," O'Leary added.

"You don't have to go too terribly big, but if you have a sort of an equivalent of a Fairview type set up (Alfie Byrne Road) in Swords, Castleknock and even do a loop around the M50 that would be reasonably easy to get to and was a nice size and would cater for all people around the county.

"Then when you have them and you fill it, it brings another problem.

"But relative to other counties we're doing really well," O'Leary added.

"But the population brings it's own problems."



Dublin has no centre of excellence comparable with Tyrone's in Garvaghey

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