Laszlo Geczo/INPHO The Croke Park pitch on All-Ireland club football final day last month.
wear and tear
GAA set to review Croke Park pitch usage for next winter
Playing surface has been criticised in recent weeks.

THE GAA MAY reconsider the amount of games played at Croke Park next winter following the battering taken by the pitch in recent months.

The surface has struggled to cope with the number of club games played on it across December and January with criticism of the sod coming from various quarters.

Pat Hoban, after leading Ballyhale Shamrocks to the All-Ireland club hurling title, was highly critical of the surface while All-Ireland club football final Glen manager Malachy O’Rourke said it wasn’t “what you would like for an All-Ireland final”.

Croke Park stadium and commercial director Peter McKenna acknowledged the complaints and said it is something the GAA needs to carefully consider before setting out next winter’s schedule of games.

“The pitch is covered and it’s going to go through a recovery period between now and the next game which is about three weeks away,” said McKenna at the launch of the GAA’s annual report and finances document.

“Really, we’ve just got to weigh up how many games we can play in a window of time on the pitch. But it’s not easy to say what would you put out of there? The ladies matches were very important. The camogie match was very important. We had the Leinster (club men’s) semis, in hurling and football, the Leinster finals, the (All-Ireland) club semis and finals. So which of those do we not do?

“I mean, the pitch didn’t look well. It was playing okay though certainly without grass cover it’s hard to rise a ball and there was some criticism of that. I’d acknowledge that and we’ll look at it and see what’s really the optimum number of games you can play during that period.

“I think that’s something to come back to (before next winter). You never like to see it looking so tired. It’s what everyone wants to see when they come in, the pitch. But it’ll be fine in the next couple of weeks.”

McKenna assured that the at times bare and chopped up surface had nothing to do with the Garth Brooks gigs that were staged there in September.

“It had nothing to do with Garth Brooks, genuinely they were very, very happy with the pitch post Garth Brooks,” he said. “It held up well. It’s just we’ve had a lot of traffic on it.”

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