FOR the first time ever families and older people will be able to welcome home their hurling heroes in comfort no matter what the result of the All Ireland final in Croke Park.
This follows the decision taken by the Kilkenny County Council after receiving advice from senior Gardai and following consultation with the GAA to move the homecoming for the senior hurling team to Nowlan Park, the association’s headquarters for the city and county.
It means that people with small children and old age pensioners will be able to sit and watch as the team come out on to the pitch with or without the Liam McCarthy Cup (hopefully with it).
It also means that police officers will be able to monitor security in a place that meets all health and safety regulations and where there are excellent toilet and first aid facilities.
There had been ongoing difficulties regarding public safety, insurance and other issues with the Market Yard and other city centre alternatives. It is understood that may people has asked for the homecoming to be switched to Nowlan Park.
It is understood that the number of wheelchair users and those with special needs will be much larger than normal for the homecoming because of the switch and if it does rain, the stands are covered thanks to the huge investment by the GAA in facilities at Nowlan Park. So no one will get soaked.
And the good news for the GAA is that the County Board is to be paid a figure of around E5,000 for the pitch which will come from Kilkenny’s local authorities who are paying for the hire of Nowlan Park. The Kilkenny People understands that the money will be used as a contribution towards the players holiday fund.
Precise details of the homecoming are still being finalised but it has been agreed that the players will leave from their hotel in Dublin at City West on Monday afternoon and go on to the motorway. At around tea time, they will transfer to a double decker bus on the city’s Castle Road, after coming off the Ring Road before being driven down to the Parade, past Kilkenny Castle. A second bus is expected to pick up those closely associated with the team, including family members.
The cortege will then turn right down Rose Inn Street. over John’s Bridge and on to John Street before going to Nowlan Park via the Hebron Road.. As usual there will be traffic restrictions in place from early on Monday afternoon but disruption is expected to be less than usual thanks to the alternative venue while traffic congestion in the city centre will be kept to a minimum.
There will be entertainment provided at Nowlan Park and it is expected that The Kilkenny’s will be among the groups performing. Further details as they become available will be placed on the Kilkenny People website: kilkennypeople.ie