Semple Stadium, Thurles.

Semple Stadium, Thurles.

Semple Stadium claims inaugural 2017 GAA Pitch Award

The GAA is pleased to announce Semple Stadium as the winner of the 2017 Pitch Award.

The Thurles venue in County Tipperary is the inaugural winner of the award, with St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge in County Kildare announced as the runner-up.

Other venues including O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny (Donegal), Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon, Páirc Uí Rinn in Cork and Innovate Wexford Park (Wexford) were shortlisted as high achievers in the competition for their work.

Assessment of the grounds nationwide was completed by Stuart Wilson, Croke Park Pitch Manager and GAA National Games Development Centre, and Dr Stephen Barker of the Sports Research Institute, who visited all six venues.

The decision process involved scoring and feedback from referees during the Allianz Leagues in spring, and took into consideration a Pitch Quality Assessment based on performance standards, construction, management program, environmental conditions and usage levels.

The awards scheme is part of a wider initiative to improve the standards of playing surfaces around the country and to share some of the expertise and experience used at Croke Park and from the GAA’s National Pitch Committee.

Commenting on the scheme and the results, GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail said: “I would like to congratulate the team at Semple Stadium on winning this award.  We have all witnessed many great games in Thurles over the years, and while the talents of hurlers and footballers catches the eye of many, the conditions for them to play in always top class so I salute the work undertaken by all.

“This initiative is a welcome addition to the GAA landscape and I would like to pay tribute to Stuart Wilson and all of the National Pitch Committee whose work not only highlights the great work nationwide by volunteers in maintaining our pitches and grounds, but also encourages people to improve and raise their standards.”

The grounds team from Semple Stadium will receive the award at an All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final in August with the winner and runner up also receiving pitch supplies thanks to Irish Turfcare, ICL and Campey Turfcare Systems.