This summer’s redevelopment of the much talked about playing surface at Dr Hyde Park is set to follow the lead of Croke Park by laying rolls of pre-grown turf on top of a state of the art sand based sub-surface.
Despite being more expensive than the traditional method of growing a playing field from seed, a decision has been taken by Roscommon GAA to invest extra money in this alternative approach as it will mean that games can be played at Dr Hyde Park again in a much shorter time-frame. A traditional playing pitch could take up to 18 months to establish, meaning that the county would again miss out on home advantage for a number of Allianz League and various Championship games in 2017, which would also have a negative effect on the local economy.
The rolls of playing turf are set to be sourced from “County Turf” based in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire who are the same speciality turf farm which provides the turf for Croke Park. It will be harvested, rolled up and transported to Ireland in temperature controlled trucks before being relaid on a prepared surface in Roscommon. At present no Irish company grows the particular blend of grass which Croke Park Officials, deem suitable for the playing of Gaelic Games.
The project will be managed by the GAA’s National Infrastructure Committee and will be mainly funded by money which was previously allocated by Croke Park to the county. When the money was originally allocated to Roscommon many years ago Club Delegates agreed that it should be spend on the construction of the County Training Centre at Runnabracken. At last week’s County Board Meeting they agreed to re-allocate the money to Dr. Hyde Park. The future development of the Dermot Earley Centre at Runnabracken will not be impacted by the reallocation of the funds.
The final cost of what is set to be “phase one” of the Dr Hyde Park Redevelopment is yet to be confirmed as it is currently at tender stage. The balance of the funding will be contributed by Croke Park in the form of a development grant.
The work on the new pitch could begin as early as next month after Roscommon’s Connacht Senior Football Championship Semi-Final against Sligo. However, unlike the upcoming re-laying of the Croke Park pitch (due to begin on July 7th and be completed for the Leinster Football Final on July 17th ) the Roscommon project could take six months. This is due to the once-off preparatory works required at the venue, including the installation of perimeter and lateral drains, layers of draining stone, an adequate surface water outflow system and the sand based sub surface. A new fence surrounding the pitch will also be erected and the completed scheme will be “handed over” to Roscommon GAA ahead of the county’s first Allianz Football League game in February.
The video below shows the installation of a pre-grown playing surface in Croke Park in 2009 and will give supporters an idea of what to expect.