Leinster's top players could soon be playing at a new venue. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Big Plans

New 40,000 stadium close to Dublin's M50 'on the cards', says Leinster Council chief

Croke Park may soon have a rival for League and provincial championship matches.

LEINSTER COUNCIL CHAIRMAN John Horan believes a new 40,000 capacity stadium, somewhere close to Dublin’s M50 motorway, is ‘on the cards’ in the coming years.

The provincial chief said it’s realistic to hope for sod to be broken on the project within five years with a preferred site already located.

That’s located between the toll bridge on the M50 and the Red Cow junction and Dubliner Horan believes it would be ideal for a ground which has been widely speculated upon in recent years but, so far, not pursued.

Top GAA officials believe a ‘provincial’ stadium is necessary to accommodate various Allianz league and Championship games which are currently played out to crowds that barely fill a third of Croke Park, ruining the atmosphere.

Horan was speaking at the launch of Leinster’s GAA strategic plan, 2015 to 2018, and outlined a number of other ambitious infrastructure projects.

General view of Croke Park Croke Park may soon have a rival for Leinster championship matches. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

For example, he said that as much as €20m could be invested in overhauling Meath’s Pairc Tailteann base while Westmeath, Kildare, Louth and Longford are all in the process of upgrading their primary venues.

But the M50 stadium plan will grab most attention with Horan suggesting it is likely to happen.

“You have developments going on in Casement Park and Cork so I would see it as the next serious development that the GAA should take on.

“There’s (GAA President) Aogan O Fearghail saying it as well, in a recent interview, that something has to be looked at.

I’d say it’s on the cards. I feel it’s the way to go. You all know, when you come to Croke Park and the top deck is empty, it kills the atmosphere to the place.

“We could serve a new stadium by going out there and you know, concerts, you wouldn’t have the same residential issues if you had a stadium like that which you could hold it in.”

Stephen Cluxton leads his players in the team parade Dublin won another provincial senior football title at Croke Park this summer. Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

Horan acknowledged the ambitious idea would need a full backing from the GAA centrally but suggested that the company which runs Croke Park, PCT, could take on the project. He outlined exactly where he’d like it be located.

“If you build it, it’s got to serve the needs of Kildare, Meath, Louth, so you need it in a good infrastructural setting.

“If you ever go out the M50, there’s a junction seven and a junction nine but there’s no junction eight.

Junction eight was meant to be obviously between seven and nine and if you go out there and look on the right hand side, outside the M50, there’s a big land bank in there and some people speculated that you put in junction eight and put in a stadium there on that land bank.

“You won’t be a million miles away from the LUAS line, you’ll have the infrastructure of the motorway and you won’t be bringing everyone straight into the traffic nest that’s in Dublin.”

Dublin GAA secretary John Costello was critical in his annual report of NAMA’s handling of an attempted purchase of the Spawell complex for a stadium and training centre.

John Costello Dublin county board CEO John Costello. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Horan agreed that the state body should be doing more for the GAA and hinted that they could potentially supply a site for a stadium.

“I think NAMA need to take on a bit of corporate and social responsibility in a lot of what’s going on in this country at the moment.

I’m not just saying this to have a pop at NAMA but, in a real sense, I see absolutely no reason why NAMA can’t lease land to sporting organisations.”

Leinster’s strategic plan is based on five key pillars; Games development and refereeing, facilities, marketing and promotion, operation and administration and finance.

A particular emphasis, with the backing of €1m in central funds, will also be given to hurling development in Offaly, Laois, Carlow and Westmeath.

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