Austin Stack Park

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Austin Stack Park

Austin Stack Park

Location

Area: Tralee
County: County Kerry
Country: Republic of Ireland

Facility Statistics

Broke Ground:
Opened
Renovated
Surface : Grass
Owner: Kerry GAA
Original Construction Cost:
Reconstruction Cost:
Architect:

Seating Capacity

Capacity:

Dimensions

Dimensions:

 

Austin Stack Park is a Gaelic Athletic Association stadium in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland. It is one of the main grounds of Kerry GAA's Gaelic football and hurling teams. The ground is named after Austin Stack, an Irish revolutionary.

History was made in Kerry GAA when the first game was played under floodlights at Austin Stack Park in Tralee. ESB employee and project manager James Houlihan explains the background to the new facility.

Saturday, November 3 2002, last was a significant date in the history of Kerry GAA as it marked the first occasion that a game was played under floodlights at Austin Stack Park in Tralee.

Floodlighting, or sportslighting as its often referred to, is a relatively new phenomena in the GAA and Austin Stack Park holds the distinction of being the first major inter-county ground in the country to be fitted with a full floodlit facility. Pairc Ui Rinn in Cork and Dublin’s Parnell Park are just two top grounds that are set to follow suit in the coming year. John Mitchels and Ballymacelligott had the honour of being the first two teams to play under the new floodlights which cost £250,000 to install.

The game in question was the semi-final of the Tralee District Board senior football championship and it finished in a draw.

Since then, a number of fixtures have been staged under the new floodlights, including the Railway Cup semi-final between Munster and Leinster. The facility is seen as a major step forward for Kerry GAA, enabling games to be played under lights during the winter and spring and right up to the month of May.
“It’s definitely the way forward,” says James Houlihan, who works as a contracts manager with the ESB and oversaw the installation of the floodlighting at Austin Stack Park.

“Rugby and soccer have already gone down this road and it’s the obvious next step for the GAA to take. There are huge advantages to having a floodlit venue and I think it’s rather fitting that Kerry, with all its All-Ireland successes down the years, should be the first county in Munster to have this sort of a facility,” he adds.

Houlihan, who still plays for the Fossa club in Killarney, points out that the GAA is changing all the time and that the tradition of playing matches on a Sunday afternoon no longer suits everyone.
“I know from playing football myself that the game on the Sunday afternoon can be awkward for a lot of people. Around the country, Sunday has unfortunately in my opinion, become a shopping day for a lot of families. With floodlighting, the game can be played that evening and everyone’s happier.

“Floodlighting is a great facility to have in the winter months but it can also be used at anytime of the year. It allows county boards to fix matches during the week or whenever they like,” he explains.
The floodlighting in Tralee was installed by the ESB Contracts Dept.. The County Board has received grant aid from both the government and the Munster Council. In fact, the funding from the Munster Council was part of the Council’s Millennium Project for field development. James informs us that the Tralee facility was first mooted about 10 years ago but it wasn’t until April 2000 that the ESB got the call from the Kerry county board to say that they were interested.

“This is something the county board had been planning for a long time. The county board secretary Tony O’Keeffe was on a special GAA committee which looked into the possibility of floodlit venues a few years ago and he was in favour of it happening.

“In April of last year, we (the ESB Contracts) were asked by the county board to submit a proposal and a cost. They called us back last August to give the project the go-ahead and we had the job completed within a matter of weeks.”

Houlihan notes that the ESB received tremendous co-operation from Philips who did the lighting design and supplied the lighting projectors the masts and the headframes were designed and supplied by Lamppost Construction Co. Louth.

“I would like to acknowledge the help and support which we received from Michael Maloney from Philips and Oliver Murphy of Lamppost Construction. Their assistance ensured that everything ran smoothly and was done quickly,” he says.

I would also like to acknowledge the trogan work carried out by my own staff over long hours to meet our deadline. We were also blessed with good weather. Each mast weighs approximately five tonnes, two are 28 metres in height and two are 24 metres in height, the headframes weigh two tonnes each and are positioned 30 metres from the centre to the fields playing surface. The floodlights provide two options - training mode and full playing mode.

James and his colleagues specialise in high, medium and low voltage electrical installations work including windfarms as well as maintenance. The ESB has installed floodlighting for training purposes at a number of GAA grounds throughout Kerry, including An Ghaeltacht, St. Pat’s, Glenflesk, Legion, Laune Rangers and Finuge.

James Houlihan is well known in Kerry GAA circles and at the age of 51, is still going strong for Division 5 side Fossa. He hails from Killorglin where he played underage football with Laune Rangers before transferring to Brian Dillon’s in Cork. When his job brought him to Killarney in the early seventies he played with Listry and then joined Fossa, a new senior club formed in 1973, where he resides and has been playing with them ever since.

Houlihan was delighted to see a big attendance turning up in Austin Stack Park for the inaugural floodlit game between Ballymacelligott and John Mitchel’s.

“It was a real honour for those two clubs to be the first to play under lights in Tralee,” he says.
“There was a great turnout for the game which was very pleasing. The reaction from the players and the supporters alike were very favourable and I can see no reason why floodlit games won’t take off throughout the country over the next few years.”


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