DIVISION 1 football will come to Newbridge next spring when Kildare compete in the top tier for the first time since the 2008 season. Kildare secured promotion when they finished in second place after a draw with Galway back in April and this year they could potentially host big guns Dublin, Kerry, Cork, Mayo and Donegal in St Conleth’s Park, writes Ruth Chambers.
Recently, due to health and safety restrictions, Kildare’s All Ireland qualifier against Limerick was moved from Newbridge to O’Moore Park in Portlaoise and at last week’s county board meeting chairman John McMahon said it is imperative that St Conleth’s be brought up to standard before the start of the 2013 league campaign.
“We have to do work to be ready for Division 1 football. The Limerick game really brought it to a head,” admitted McMahon last Tuesday.
He added: “We won’t be knocking stands and terraces but there’s a lot of work to do and that’s going to cost money.”
Last year a specially commissioned report on the health and safety of inter county GAA grounds reduced the capacity of Newbridge to 6,500 and the Kildare County Board are adamant they will be able to accommodate division 1 crowds.
“We need to see what needs to be done to bring our numbers up, to get our capacity increased. Let me assure you our home games will be in St Conleth’s Park,” insisted McMahon.
“We need to ensure we can get people safely through our gates and out safely if something unforeseen happens. We need to look at the regress on the terraces too,” added the chairman.
The Naas club man admitted that if the money was available the board could do much more, however, at present that is not on the cards.
“If we had the money we would go back to basics, back to the planning permission process but that plan didn’t happen. It’s now a matter of phasing the work and phasing the funding because there is no move on the horizon so we have to bring St Conleth’s up to standard,” remarked McMahon.