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The new stand at Corrigan Park in Belfast is close to completion. 
The new stand at Corrigan Park in Belfast is close to completion. 

Antrim GAA are busy building a brighter future

By John Harrington

The redevelopment of Corrigan Park in Belfast is on course to be completed in October, according to Antrim GAA Chairman, Ciarán McCavana.

The €1Million project has seen the construction of a state of the art stand and terracing down one side of the home of St. John's GAA club in West Belfast and is a real boost for Gaelic Games in the city.

“It's a good news story for us in Antrim,” says Antrim GAA Chairman, Ciarán McCavana. “We'll have 600 seats in it, 2,000 standing on the terrace, and wheelchair facilities.

“We'll be spending just short of a million sterling on it. We're planning to eventually do a terrace on the other side but that's another day's work because we don't currently have the money. It's Antrim's equivalent of a mini Parnell Park.

“Hopefully we'll be getting good news in a few weeks on the Casement Park planning, but Casement is going to be a big stadium of 34 and a half thousand so it won't make common sense to hold certain games there so we're hoping that Corrigan Park will effectively be a good second county ground and it'll be nice to see it revamped.

“In the same way Dublin use Parnell Park a lot for certain county matches as well as club matches, we would envisage Corrigan Park being used in the same way.

“Corrigan Park used to have a stand and it had to be pulled down around ten years ago because it was old but there was nothing like being in Corrigan Park because it had such a good atmosphere.

“It's a tight enough pitch and you could have a real cauldron of an atmosphere. Two or three thousand in it would feel like 30,000. We would have hoping to recreate that cauldron effect.

“It's another shot in the arm for Antrim GAA. We'll have a county ground that's comfortable for people to come and watch matches in.

“We got Kildare up to Corrigan Park last year for the All-Ireland qualifiers and it was a great atmosphere, but you're standing on grass banks which isn't ideal, it's 1980s stuff.

“On a wet, blustery day you want to be seated in a covered stand so it's great that we'll soon be able to provide that for our supporters.”

The redevelopment of Corrigan Park is just one of many positive vibes emanating from Antrim GAA at the moment.

McCavana anticipates the redevelopment of Casement Park will also finally be green-lighted “in the next four to six weeks”, the Gaelfast project in Belfast continues to go from strength to strength, and both the senior inter-county hurling and football teams seem to be making progress.

“If we beat Kerry in we're in the Division 1 hurling and if we win another two football matches we'll be in Division Three of football, that would give everyone a huge lift,” says McCavana.

“In that scenario you'd be hoping to see Division 1 hurling matches in Corrigan Park next year and Division Three football matches there next year. You could fill the place to the rafters for matches like that.

“There's a lot of working being done on the ground in Antrim by the clubs and by Gaelfast and we really want to get back to the top table of hurling and keep moving up through the ranks in football.

“There are a lot of positive signs around. Two Belfast city clubs reached the county hurling semi-finals this year and both only lost by a point. Hopefully we can get Belfast on the move because if we can get a city like Belfast on the move then Antrim will be on the move.

“We need the both the country and the city strong, but the city is where the population is so if we can attract more kids then we'll be stronger.

“Kids aspire to play in good stadiums, so hopefully a redeveloped Corrigan Park will help in that regard too.

“Kids will aspire and dream to play in Corrigan and the new Casement Park, and that can only be good for Antrim GAA.”

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