Croker stands up to Mother Nature
Last Saturday, fans due to travel the following day to Croker must have wondered if the games would go ahead at all, such were the monsoon conditions. That evening, according to Met Eireann, 72mm of rain per hour fell. Amazingly, the Croke Park pitch is capable of taking twice that amount.
“It was never in doubt. We had it renovated after the Leinster final and it is in perfect condition. Croke Park is designed and tested around an engineered storm,” said Richard Hayden of STRI, which looks after its maintenance. “It’s not a matter of going away and letting the grass grow either. We are at that pitch seven days a week. The management of it is so important.”
The ground staff were there until nearly midnight on Saturday and put in 14-hour days to ensure the pitch was in top condition. And Hayden says he needs to credit the three unsung heroes of Jones Road who put in serious graft last weekend. Groundsmen. Robert Ellis, Paddy Walsh and Marcel Bantea take a bow.
Water machine Hogs the limelight
The ‘Water Hog’ was called on to remove surface water from the pitch. The ‘Hog’ resembles a big ride-on lawnmower with a roller at the back designed to soak up water on the ground before spraying it onto the empty terraces.
The ‘Water Hog’ is used extensively in cricket and Premiership grounds in England and it saved three club matches in Laois last weekend.
“It saved a match on Saturday night and then on Sunday we had it out again. It lifted around 2,000 litres of water in just under three hours and the two games went ahead no problem that afternoon. It was amazing,” said Kavanagh.