Biting Back: Casement Park must be home for Ulster GAA
Today, Justice Mark Horner will ask representatives of Ulster GAA, and those of the Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents’ Association, to outline their positions regarding what the future will hold for Casement Park.
On Monday, the judgement was that procedures had not been properly followed. Mr Justice Horner also made mention in his findings that attendances of 32,600 as a baseline figure for a 38,000 all-seater stadium were unrealistic.
He stated: “This was neither a fair nor lawful approach because the evidence made it clear that a crowd of 32,600 was never going to attend the present Casement Park now or in the foreseeable future.”
For three years in the middle of the last decade, St Tiernach’s Park in Clones could not even cope with the demand for Ulster finals, and so it was moved to Croke Park.
Since returning to Clones in 2007, Ulster final attendances have surpassed that figure five times. With the prospect of a new, gleaming stadium, it would be entirely expected that final attendances would be close to full houses.
Add in an All-Ireland quarter-final, and the occasional concert. Consider also that the premises could be used to house business meetings and functions in the same way that Croke Park is used now.
The last Ulster senior Gaelic football final to be played in Belfast was in 1970. Since then, the unremarkable but romantic market town of Clones has played host to it.
It may have a special place in the heart of Gaelic football fans, but it is out of the way. GAA needs to go centre stage in Ulster. Casement is the place for it.