MacHale Park set to be closed for several months

It’s now over a year since supporters were there to witness Mayo play at MacHale Park – those of an unkind disposition might say it’s been longer than this, so poor has our record at the county ground been in recent years – and, by the looks of it, it could be well into next year before this happens again.

The main reason in the immediate future for keeping supporters away is, of course, Covid. Public health restrictions arising from the ongoing pandemic looks set to mean that this year’s entire inter-county programme will be played behind closed doors.

Even after the restrictions ease, however, MacHale Park is set to remain out of bounds for supporters for several months more. This is because there are plans afoot for some overdue development work on the pitch there.

Mike Finnerty has a piece on this in the Mayo News (here), in which Mayo GAA Assistant Treasurer Michael Diskin, who is spearheading the project, states that the work on the pitch won’t start until after we’ve played our final inter-county game at the venue this year.

This means, though, that no club Championship matches will be played there later this year and, while this isn’t certain, there’s a strong likelihood that it might still be out of bounds for the start of next year’s National League campaign. According to Michael Diskin, ‘worse case’ is that it’ll be available to play on again next April.

As well as drainage and the installation of the new playing surface, the works will involve lengthening the pitch by five metres at the Albany end. That’s a welcome move, in light of the extremely tight confines of the existing pitch.

None of us will be getting to whatever inter-county matches we play at MacHale Park this year so, if we really are in something approaching a post-Covid world in 2022, then when we next get to see the Mayo team run out at MacHale Park it’ll be onto the new sod laid there. You’d never know, we might even start to see a regular stream of home wins at the venue from then on too.

21 thoughts on “MacHale Park set to be closed for several months

  1. Great news that they are making it longer,how are they going to do this though? Will it involve taking out some rows if seating at the Albany end?

  2. Welcome news on the improvements to the pitch, though I am not sure it needs to be bigger. Also a great opportunity to get some improvements in place during this down time. If you have not make a contribution to the new pitch this would be a great chance to do so via Laochra Mhaigh Eo. McHale Park on a Saturday evening is one of the best places to be in this country. Most Mayo people are rightly proud of their place in Castlebar Town and so they should be. That we seek to improve it, augers well for the future

  3. MacHale Park certainly needs to be made bigger, as big as the site will allow. The narrow confines of it does not suit Mayo’s style which favours using open space and giving skilled players to use their skills. I suspect that the present pitch would be among Roscommon’s favourites – which indicates my opinion of Roscommon football. Unfortunately there is no possibility of widening the pitch without drastically reducing spectator accommodation on the MacHale Road side. Re the Albany End I have never seen it nearly full.

  4. Hello,

    Any news on how the new Croke Park size new Westport Gaa Grounds is going. It is on the Old Golf Course Rd on land leased from Mayo Co Co. It was part of the Westport Demesne. I guess Construction work is held up. They are raffling another house for funds.

    It would be nice to have a County Game in Westport? Great actually, when McHake Park is not available.

  5. I still think they could easily flatten 3 rows of old concrete seats on the Machale Road side at very little additional cost and very little impact on spectator numbers. I understand we cant afford to dig out the stand foundation underneath for the width of the 3 seats but why do we not just cover it over.The new level of the pitch with all the tons of sand would naturally transiton in over the concrete floor to the new seat level. The existing sideline (1.5m – 2.0m) would become part of the new playing surface and where the old 3 rows of seats were would be the new sideline. The sideline dosn’t have to be some amazing playing surface or anything. It just needs to have drainage towards the field drains, 6 inches of soil and grass for a soft landing for players that go tumbling over the line. If the field was made 2m wider and 5m longer it would make such a difference. Making it longer without addressing the width will just makes things worse in my mind

  6. Hi, Yes, I can see it would be very windy with a sea breeze and reminiscent of Salthill. No shortage of rain either

    Yes, The Parking would take some believing and exiting Westport would be something else. It would be okay for traffic in the Newport direction.

    Just a thought as Westport has such a strong representation on the team now.

  7. While its a welcome announcement that there is work being done on the pitch, from reading the article in the Mayo News and Micheal Diskins comments im not convinced the final product will be what people are thinking , ie a brand new surface like the Hyde, Croke Park etc. Work is commencing after Mayo’s last championship game this year and hope to be finished latest 1st August (to allow grass to grow), that is a very very short time period to construct a new pitch. 1000 tons of sand sounds a lot but that’s just 50 loads (8 wheel lorry carries around 20 ton), that works out at about 50mm over the full size of the pitch, doesn’t sound nearly enough. Also no mention of new turf, just reseeding. I maybe totally wrong and I hope I am but I will wait to see the final specification or the finished product before getting too excited about it.

  8. The only realistic way to increase the width of the pitch by the 8 or so meters required , would be to demolish at least 10 rows of the mchale rd side and construct a substantial retaining wall to prevent the rest of the terrace from collapsing. This would not be cheap and would result in a reduced capacity eyesore along that side of the ground.

  9. Albany End. My estimate would be 15 rows at least and a 2. 4 meter drop. But let’s say Mayo CB were to lose their scruples completely and run with the idea. What would we do if we ever lost a Championship match there again, blame the colour of the jerseys perhaps?

  10. Best winter pitch in the country is Páirc Tailteann Navan. Remember how it held up in the downpours before our last league game there

  11. @pjmcmanus. You could be right, difficult to know without measurements
    Either way I can’t see it happening. A more desirable option would be as part of a complete redevelopment of the Mac hale rd side but that’s not an option for at least 20 years.

  12. I don’t think removing rows in the Albany End is an issue. The stadium can easily hold 35,000 but because of ridiculous Heath and Safety rules the stadium is only allowed to accommodate 25,000 these days.

    I think back to the new stand and wonder was an opportunity missed to build a brand new stadium back where the training pitches are? I know money would have been an issue. The new stand was built with flaws none more so than the poles and due to the direction it’s facing means it’s always bitter cold in there and the first dozen or so rows are exposed to the elements.

  13. Whenever i pass McHale Park these days, I cant help but think of the Debt. Its been a millstone around our already overburdened clubs for years and into the future. Its a crazy waste of every clubs resources.

  14. Goagain – I agree. It’s a massive burden every club in this county carries. We are paying for something that was not our doing.

  15. Good on Offaly County Board for writing to Croke Park about the removal of cover for loss of wages from the GAA’s player injury fund. That will have a huge impact on the players and their families. I hope our County Chairman does likewise.

  16. Can anything be done…can the local sports journalists highlight the debt and the affects it is having? It surely is putting off wealthy benefactors getting involved when so much has to be paid back. Can Croke Park and/or John Prenty help us – we have been filling stadiums for years after all.

  17. We have been to Croke Park with the problem of the debt on MacHale Park and Croke Park took our liability to the banks on to itself and we are now repaying Croke Park with a reduced interest rate, and I think. over an extended number of years thereby reducing the annual burden. I think that is as good as its going to get. A lot of clubs around the country got into trouble with the 2009 or thereabouts economic collapse and have had to get Croke Park help in sorting the issues. That does not mean that Croke Park relieved them of their debts, rather they reorganised them and made them more manageable.
    Regards the idea that the pitch should have been pushed on the the pitches at the back of the stand, remember that these are Castlebar Mitchels pitches. Where would they go if they lost some of their ground? Of course the entire is Mitchel’s property. The main pitch has been leased to the Co Board as it’s redevelopment was getting beyond Mitchel’s resources.
    One of the main problems with pitch development is lack of foresight. It would at one time have been possible to widen the pitch on the MacHale Road side and still retain the spectator capacity by extending the terrace over the roadside footpath much as the Canal End/Davin Stand in Croke Park was extended over the Railway line along the Royal Canal. That would also have the advantage of giving pedestrians shelter while walking along MacHale Road.

  18. AndyD, the idea of pushing the McHale road terrace over the footpath is a mental idea which would never have gotten planning approval. Imagine the height it would have to be at the back then imagine what the houses on the opposite side would be looking at, definitely wouldn’t be sunlight. They would object and rightly so.

  19. Thete is a new Road being constructed at the moment that will connect the Castlebar Road going into Westport with the Newport Road it will be ready next year and would take the traffic from the new pitch in Carrowholly when we get the go ahead to attend matches again.

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