The launch of the new standards for GAA synthetic pitches will take place in the GAA's National Games Development Centre (NGDC) in Abbotstown on Thursday, September 29.
The launch of the new standards for GAA synthetic pitches will take place in the GAA's National Games Development Centre (NGDC) in Abbotstown on Thursday, September 29. 

GAA clubs invited to attend launch of new standards for synthetic pitches


By John Harrington

GAA club members are encouraged to attend the launch of the new standards for GAA synthetic pitches which will take place in the National Games Development Centre (NGDC) in Abbotstown on Thursday, September 29.

Attendees will hear from and have the opportunity to speak to a variety of experts involved in the building and maintenance of synthetic pitches.

Alastair Cox, an internationally recognised authority on the maintenance and upkeep of synthetic turf pitches, will speak about the current standards and performance of synthetic turf surfaces.

Sinead Leavy, the GAA’s Risk and Insurance Manager, will discuss the registration and performance of synthetic turf surfaces.

Derry Enright, Venue Manager of the GAA’s National Games Development Centre, will provide great insight into the maintenance and cleaning of synthetic sport surfaces.

There will also be a demonstration on the proper use of synthetic turf machinery.

According to Ian McClements, Senior Consultant with iTurf Management and Secretary of the GAA Pitch Maintenance Work Group, clubs who already have a synthetic pitch or are considering developing one will benefit hugely from attending the launch on September 29.

“A GAA club is going to invest a significant amount of money in building and installing a synthetic pitch,” said McClements.

“If they come along to the launch they'll not only learn about the new standards and how they should go about procuring and installing that facility, they will also learn how to maintain it properly.

“Because if a synthetic pitch is not maintained properly then you will not be able to achieve the longevity you would expect from that facility and it could in fact become dangerous for players to play on.”

Croke Park pitch manager, Stuart Wilson. 
Croke Park pitch manager, Stuart Wilson. 

Stuart Wilson, Pitch manager of Croke Park Stadium, the NGDC, and Croke Park Turf Farm, believes the development of new standards for GAA synthetic pitches will be of great benefit to GAA clubs and their members.

“The usage of synthetic pitches is absolutely crucial to clubs because it takes away the pressure from natural pitches,” Wilson told GAA.ie.

“The one synthetic pitch at the GAA's National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown is a brilliant example of how useful they are. We record usage hours on every single pitch and on an annual basis that synthetic pitch has more usage than the four natural pitches do because it can take the pressure away in the winter.

“The new standards for synthetic pitches, the correct maintenance of them, and having them tested every three years is going to be a big positive because it will improve the quality of synthetic pitches.”

A comprehensive new guide covering every aspect of a GAA synthetic turf field from design to construction and maintenance has been compiled by the GAA’s Pitch Management Workgroup, with industry experts also included.

Experience has shown that the quality of even the best quality synthetic turf fields can deteriorate and result in a poorly performing or even unsafe playing environment that exposes athletes to unacceptable risks.

To ensure that such fields are not used for GAA competitions or training, the GAA has introduced a Register of Synthetic Turf Fields

For a synthetic pitch to appear on the Register it must be tested and shown to satisfy the requirements of the GAA Performance and construction standards for synthetic turf fields and training areas, applicable at the time the field was built.

An initial field test should be undertaken following construction of a new field, ideally before it is brought into use. Thereafter, the field should be retested every three years throughout its life to verify it is still providing acceptable levels of performance and adequate protection to players.

Clubs who wish to register for the launch of the GAA’s new synthetic pitch standards can contact Kieran McGann of the National Pitch Maintenance Workgroup at the following email address - kieran.mcgann.nhsc@gaa.ie.

The new guide for every aspect of a GAA synthetic turf field from design to construction and maintenance can be viewed and downloaded below, as can the schedule for the launch of the GAA’s new Synthetic Pitch Standards.