|Location||Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland|
|Renovated||1981 and 2009|
|Field dimensions||145 x 90 m|
Semple Stadium is the home of hurling for Tipperary GAA and for the province of Munster. Located in Thurles, County Tipperary, it is the second largest stadium in Ireland (after Croke Park), with a capacity of 53,000. Over the decades since 1926, it has established itself as the leading venue for Munster hurling followers, hosting the Munster Hurling Final on many memorable occasions.
The main or 'Old Stand' of the ground (also known as the 'Ardán Ó Coinneáin' or 'Dr Kinane Stand') lies across from the 'New Stand' (also known as the 'Ardán Ó Riáin') both of which are covered. Behind the goals are two uncovered terraces known as the 'Town End' and the 'Killinan End' respectively.
In April 2006, Tipperary County Board announced an €18 million redevelopment plan for the Stadium. The three-year project aimed to boost capacity to over 55,000, as well as providing a wide range of modern facilities such as corporate space concessions, dining and changing areas within both main stands. There were also plans to upgrade the standing terraces and instal a modern floodlighting facility. Phase one of the upgrade project, upgrading the Kinnane Stand side of the stadium, involved expenditure of €5.5 million.
The sportshall accommodates a fully sized basketball court suitable for national standard competition. The hall is also lined for badminton, volleyball and indoor soccer. It is used in the evenings and weekends by the Tipperary hurling and football teams for training and on match days, the building is used to accommodate GAA and sponsor guests for corporate lunches and functions. It has also been used as a music venue.
The grounds on which Semple Stadium is built were formerly known as Thurles Sportsfield. The site was offered for sale in 1910 at the wish of Canon M.K. Ryan and was purchased by local Gaelic games enthusiasts for £900. To meet the cost of the purchase, an issue of shares was subscribed by the townspeople. The grounds remained in the hands of the shareholders until 1956 when they were transferred to the Gaelic Athletic Association.
In 1934 in anticipation of the All-Ireland Hurling Final being held in the grounds to mark the golden jubilee of the Association, extensive improvements were made to bring the field requirements up to the demands which a crowd of up to 60,000 would make. The embankments around the field were raised and extended and the stand accommodation was also extended. However, the jubilee final was held in Croke Park and it was another 50 years before the Stadium would host the long-awaited All-Ireland final as a showpiece to mark the centenary.
In 1968, further developments took place when the Dr Kinane Stand was completed and opened. In 1971 the stadium was named after Tom Semple, famed captain of the Thurles "Blues". He won All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship medals in 1900, 1906 and 1908. The Ardán Ó Riáin opposite the Kinane Stand and the terracing at the town end of the field was completed in 1981 at a cost of £500,000. This development and the terracing at the Killinan end of the field were part of a major improvement scheme for the celebration of the centenary All-Ireland Hurling Final between Cork and Offaly in 1984.
An architectural consultancy has been appointed to lead a design team, tasked with preparing a master plan for the redevelopment of Semple Stadium. Currently the stadium has a capacity of 53,500, of which 26,000 are seated, but with limited facilities for additional use by spectators.
The Féile Festival, running from 1990 to 1994 (and returned in 1997 for one day), was held at Semple Stadium. At the height of its success, an estimated 150,000 people attended the festival, which was also known as "The Trip to Tipp". Irish and international artists participated, including The Prodigy, The Cranberries, Blur, Bryan Adams, Van Morrison, Rage Against the Machine, Slayer, The Saw Doctors and Christy Moore.
Semple Stadium is a five-minute walk from Thurles railway station. The station is on the Dublin to Cork main rail line with connections to Limerick and Tralee lines. Irish Rail operates 'GAA Specials' to the station on the date of certain matches at Semple stadium.
- "Semple Stadium Information". Tipperary.gaa.ie. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
- "Semple Stadium Seating Plan". Ticketmaster.ie. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
- "Semple Stadium set to get €18m facelift". Irish Examiner. 21 April 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
- "Tipperary 2–15 Cork 0-09". RTÉ Sport. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
- "Switching on of Floodlights at Semple Stadium". Hoganstand.com. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
- Tipperary Star", "Trip to Tipp"
- Irish Rail main website
|All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship