By Jerome O Connell Limerick Leader Sport
LIMERICK GAA officials have vowed to continue their quest to get big events into the Gaelic Grounds.
The comments came at this week’s July County Board meeting and in the midst of confirmation that the Limerick venue will host Mayo-Cork in the All Ireland SFC Qualifier on Saturday July 22.
”If you look at our record over the last few years we have got an All Ireland senior football semi final and three or four Munster finals in senior hurling and a lot of work goes into those. We had the Hurling league semi final and final this year,” outlined Limerick GAA secretary Mike O’Riordan.
That Galway-Tipperary league final brought just over 16,000 to the Gaelic Grounds in April and a similar attendance is expected on Saturday week for the fourth round qualifier, which has a 5.00 start and will be televised live on Sky Sports.
The curtain-raiser on July 22 will be the All Ireland junior football semi final between Leitrim and Kerry.
There were calls this week for the Clare-Tipperary All Ireland hurling quarter final to be staged in Limerick but it was preordained that both All Ireland SHC quarter finals would be played in the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh, which missed out on staging the Munster final due to an overrun in construction work.
The past week has also seen much frustration that music sensation Ed Sheeran overlooked Limerick with concerts planned in 2018 for Galway, Cork, Dublin and Belfast.
The Limerick GAA secretary told club delegates at this Tuesday’s meeting in Claughaun that the desire to bring a concert to the Gaelic Grounds was huge but there were many stumbling blocks.
“I have gone to the three leading promoters in the country with regard to concerts and we have offered the venue and thrown in a carrot – that we would give the venue free of charge, in that if they came on board for a three gig event that we would give the first one free,” said O’Riordan.
”What we are being continually told is that we are too close to Dublin and there is too much of a risk (ticket sales) and that facilities for bars and restaurants are not there within the grounds.”
He explained: “There is a historical thing – It is only three or four years since there was a planning stipulation in the Gaelic Grounds where only sporting events could take place in the Gaelic Grounds and that was at a €35,000 cost for surveyors etc to get that lifted and we had to go to the City Council to get that embargo changed”.
”This year we have spoken to promoters in the UK in relation to getting events in the Gaelic Grounds and we will continue to try to do that.”
Meanwhile, the weekend of July 22/23 is busy on the local GAA calendar.
Much attention will focus on the football game, which sees Mayo return to the Limerick venue where they lost to Kerry in the 2014 All Ireland SFC semi final replay.
Mayo’s management will include former Limerick senior football trainer Donie Buckley – The Kerry native served under manager Mickey Ned O’Sullivan.
Also on the Saturday (3.00) is the opening inter-county fixture in Cork’s Pairc Ui Chaoimh with Clare playing Tipperary in an All Ireland SHC Quarter Final.
Back in Limerick that Saturday (2.30), Bruff will be venue for the final round of the group phase of the All Ireland senior camogie championship – Limerick must beat Wexford to reach the quarter final.
There will also be All Ireland intermediate ladies football championship for Limerick that weekend. Fixture confirmation is outstanding, but Limerick will play Wicklow that Saturday or Sunday in the All Ireland IFC preliminary pound.
On top of all that, Saturday July 22 is the Club Limerick ‘Afternoon at the Races’ in the Racecourse, commencing at 2pm.
Tickets can still be booked from Limerick GAA Project Coordinator Siobhan Scanlon on 061-335516 or firstname.lastname@example.org