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Wednesday 22 August 2018

'Stadium rejection a blow to us all': O'Brien

Unhappy: Ger O’Brien
Unhappy: Ger O’Brien

St Pat's Athletic is, to use the Barcelona phrase, 'More than a Club' (Més que un Club), to Ger O'Brien.

And the former defender, now on the coaching staff with the Saints feels that not only the club but the general area in their Dublin 8 heartland will suffer from a decision to block the club's proposal to build a new stadium.

A plan by the Saints to have a brand new facility, with a stadium built on top of commercial units, with housing included in the proposal, has been rejected by Dublin City Council and the go-ahead has been given to a plan which has housing only.

The Council have promised the club to "support the redevelopment of Richmond Park and/or the development of alternative grounds for St Patrick's Athletic" but losing out on their dream home is a blow.

Pat's fans are usually obsessed with football issues at this time of the season, though this is a second successive summer without European football for the Saints.

So it's the more mundane fare of league action, Pat's away to Derry City tonight hoping that the misery of that seven-game losing streak is gone.

But finding a suitable home, something better than a dilapidated Richmond Park, is a bigger issue and O'Brien feels let down by the news that the stadium plan will not go ahead, for now at least.

Frustrating

"It would be a missed opportunity, not only for ourselves but for the people of Inchicore. It's very frustrating, first of all for the people of Inchicore," O'Brien told the LOI Weekly podcast.

"A lot of my family would have lived in the flats there, and still live around Emmet Road. There's not enough there for the people in the area, there are no banks there.

"There's nowhere for people there to go shopping There are pubs, bookies and fast foot outlets but there's nothing for kids to do. If you come down to Inchicore to get some food at 5pm before one of our games, you won't find anywhere.

"If a group of 15-year-olds want to go and play football, they probably have to go 15-20 minutes away.

"They are calling this a regeneration but it's not. This country needs more houses, but what about the people who live in the area already?

"The stadium plan wasn't a property play, the stadium was going to sit on top of this new facility which would have social amenities as well as housing, this wasn't just about the ground," added O'Brien.

"It's not just about sticking new houses into an area, unless we take stock of what's gone on in the past it won't change."

On the field, Pat's hope that things have changed with last week's 2-1 win at home to Limerick. It was a nervy win where the Saints came from behind to win thanks to sub Conan Byrne, tonight Liam Buckley's men are away to Derry City.

Derry's own hopes of a European finish for next season have suffered with three defeats in the last four games.

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