Near miss at Markets Field shines light on LOI facilities
AIf the World Cup is looming, we have a small world of our own and it was not a safe place for Waterford fans last Friday.
League of Ireland fans who have visited Limerick over the decades have visited as many stadiums as they have made club appearances in the city, but Markets Field was generally regarded as the best and most popular version. more modern.
A venue steeped in history, dating back 131 years, had been refurbished at great expense to facilitate Limerick FC’s return in 2015.
According to the latest strategic plan from its owners, Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership, Markets Field has achieved Uefa Category Two Stage status after refurbishment.
Proof of his reputation as the epicenter of football in the Midwest came a year later when he hosted the EA Sports Cup Final, one of only two senior men’s deciders on the schedule.
What might have been overlooked at the time was the durability of the venue’s second gallery, located familiarly at the far end of the cathedral.
It is there, behind the goal, that the visiting section is assigned, which can accommodate up to 400 spectators. Last Friday’s game served as neutral territory for Waterford’s playoff final against Galway.
Although they did not involve Limerick’s last tenants Treaty United, the club is relevant to the discussion as it was in their semi-final nine days earlier that the first danger signals were seen.
Once lifelong Blues fan Ray Malone felt his foot puncture the particle board on the first step, the 10-foot gap with the ground he saw under the promoted action. Help was requested and the aisle sealed off by stewards with Garda tape.
Similarly, the foundations were seen as unstable, especially for a crowded crowd excited for the Stakes at Play.
After it was confirmed that the same motive was to stage the final, Malone raised his concerns with the FAI via email. Turns out he wasn’t the only one.
“Treaty United wrote to the LEDP after the semi-final, alerting them to the substantial damage and the deteriorating condition of the stand,” club board member Mike Aherne told WLR FM this week. .
“We are paying substantial rent for the pitch and were aware of the problems in the semi-final.”
The same was true for the FAI. They responded to Malone, acknowledging the issue and confirming it was resolved. “We have been in contact with Treaty United and the owners of the stadium to confirm that this maintenance work has been carried out before tomorrow evening,” read an email from a senior association official, under whose supervision the match was.
Any peace of mind that was created dissolved within 25 minutes with the sight of teeming Gardai referee Alan Patchell urging him to block the proceedings. They had heard and seen enough to deem the stand unsafe, ordering a complete evacuation.
Footage of rows of seats severed from their foundations illustrated the extent of “substantial damage” broadcast to the public address system explaining the 10-minute break in place.
“I was quite surprised and disappointed that the FAI said the damage was repaired,” Aherne continued of the Abbotstown email.
“If this stand had broken like a deck of cards, it would have been unimaginable and we could be talking about a tragedy.
“Evacuating the stand also meant parking the 400 Waterford fans on a slippery embankment on a wet night. I think this review will reveal serious shortcomings.
The review referred to is that promised by the FAI in its statement issued immediately after the final whistle. If thanks were sent to the various parties, no mention was made of the repair work supposedly undertaken between the two meetings.
Waterford also welcomed the “investigation”, keen to find out “why this problem happened”.
Seeing that everyone had a say, it was the owners’ turn to come full circle.
Asked about their views yesterday, they said: “The LEDP have been advised by the FAI of their intention to conduct a review of match operations, and we look forward to engaging with them on this.”
The Waterford devotees will have plenty of time to continue counting their blessings as this exercise unfolds.
Scorn at national venues is an unending trend, amplified during Dundalk’s dominant period by the state of their dressing rooms and away section, but it was expected at this time that the dangerous scenes which included two wall collapses at the Bray Wanderers site in the previous decade had passed.
The overwhelming feeling leaving Markets Field was a relief that no one was hurt, or worse. Such cases tend to highlight the level of surveillance that exists for clubs around facilities.
It is contained in the FAI’s voluminous 177-page club licensing manual in the section on infrastructure criteria. At the heart of the requirement is obtaining a stadium certificate issued by a registered engineer, “requesting proof that all parts of the site, including…stands, stairs and walkways…are to standards set by Irish law, local authorities, Gardai and Fire Service.”
Elsewhere are several mentions of waivers, subject to discussion with the FAI’s Stadiums and Safety Committee. Yes, it is in place, lest one doubt the area is not a priority. Of course, how could it not be, given that ‘the transformation of football facilities and infrastructure’ was one of the six pillars unveiled in the governing body’s strategic plan?
A national audit is promised by the end of the year, but before the grandiose notion of developing four-sided stadiums is launched, it would be desirable to ensure that fans and families are not running the gauntlet. risk carnage by attending matches.
Attack weak defense form by obsolete O’Neill
It’s hard not to admire Martin O’Neill’s courage in his self-written autobiography.
At a time when he was out of work, reeling from his first big sacking by Sunderland, the Derryman landed the job in Ireland he has always coveted.
Undoubtedly, O’Neill was the right choice in 2013. It was the recruitment of his assistant Roy Keane who represented the risk, because his sidekick had to be satisfied for the first time in his managerial career with being one step away from ultimate decision maker.
Together they delivered. Reaching the Euros at a time when third place in the group clinched a qualifier was the minimum target, but arguably the best World Cup qualifying campaign followed. Only the wheels came off in the final hour of playoff against Denmark.
There was no turning back, that 5-1 humiliation made worse by a 4-1 defeat at Wales 10 months later. Keane, one of his main assets, eventually became a liability. Time was up and they were both generously paid to be fired by mutual consent.
“The truth is this; there were a number of times I was called ‘the northerner’ or ‘the outsider,'” he told the Belfast Telegraph this week about his tome.
“I was treated in many ways the same as [Giovanni] Trapattoni eventually became one of those figures you tend to hate. I think that’s all.”
Think or conspire, whatever you want, Martin, but four years later it was still nothing personal. Cherish the memories, but better avoid rewriting history.
Rovers set to attack Pemount for Women’s League tilt
Rovers set to attack Pemount for Women’s League tilt
Confirmation from the FAI last night that Shamrock Rovers are back in the WNL after a nine-year hiatus will be the signal for a host of new signings.
Peamount United – from whom they ousted training director Jason Carey earlier in the season – have been their main target for rookies in recent months. Áine O’Gorman is expected to lead the migration to Tallaght in the coming weeks, with Stephanie Roche also tipped to join her.
Other stalwarts of the Peas team who won back-to-back WNL titles in 2019 and 2020 are also considering offers, but the Hoops are widening their nets.
Amanda Budden, the Shelbourne keeper who topped the clean sheet standings with 14 shutouts, is in their sights and would be a statement signing if tempted by the two-time starters.
Rovers, however, bear the financial brunt to become the market leader in the move to semi-professional status.
Veteran O’Gorman confirmed that, praising their entry into the league, and for players like her heading to the World Cup next summer, the package on offer is attractive.
Peamount will rely on their youth system – underscored by their U19s’ victory over Rovers in last weekend’s domestic final – to fill the void left by the exodus.
Email: [email protected]