Nowlan Park will stage Sunday’s big National Hurling League game between defending champions, Kilkenny and great rivals, Tipperary.
Work on removing the rest of the roof of the old stand damaged during Storm Darwin last week was progressing well as we went to press, and the venue will be ready for action.
One side closed
“The only question unanswered at the moment concerns access, which will be sorted later in the week, but the ’Park will be ready,” insisted County Board secretary, Jimmy Walsh last night.
The likelihood is that the O’Loughlin Road side of the grounds will be closed to fans. That would reduce ground capacity to 18,000 which should comfortably accommodate the crowd expected for what is one of the most attractive fixtures in the Allianz Hurling League.
There are three remaining sections of the ’Park that provide covered accommodation - two with seating - and the County Board is confident that patrons shouldn’t be inconvenienced too much.
The storm on Wednesday ripped off part of the asbestos roof of the stand on the O’Loughlin Road side of the grounds. At least three houses in the area were struck by flying debris, but there were no injuries.
The County Board immediately brought in a team of experts to work on the roof because of the potential threat posed by the asbestos. Monitoring systems to detect particles of asbestos in the air were set up early on Wednesday morning.
These monitoring units will remain in place until after the roof has been taken down, and the ’People has been assured that there have been no problems to date.
“The three houses affected by the flying debris have been tested, and all are completely clear,” explained County Board PRO, Seamus Reade. “The monitoring will continue. The ’Park will be ready.”
All week two cherry pickers were used to take down the roof, one working from inside the grounds and the other from the O’Loughlin Road side. About a third of the asbestos had been removed at the time of going to press.
Health and Safety officials have been working with the GAA, and they will have the final say on whether the ’Park will be ready for use, but no problems are envisaged. The GAA have urged fans to buy tickets for the big game at supermarket outlets in order to ease the flow of access on Sunday.