Tolka Park

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Tolka Park
Tolka
Tolka Park Dublin.jpg
Full name Tolka Park
Location Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland
Public transit Drumcondra railway station
Capacity 9,680 (6,000 safe capacity)
Opened 1953
Tenants

Home Farm Drums 1950s–1989
Shelbourne 1950s–
Shamrock Rovers 1987-1988

Ireland national rugby league team

Tolka Park (Irish: Páirc an Tulcha) is an Irish football ground located in the north Dublin suburb of Drumcondra, on the northern banks of the River Tolka. It is currently the home ground of League of Ireland club Shelbourne.[1] The stadium used to hold 9,680, though the safe capacity is now set at 6,000 by the Dublin Fire Brigade Health and Safety Unit. Tolka Park has hosted national cup finals along with international matches, Champions League qualifiers, UEFA Cup, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup ties and was a venue for the 2000 Rugby League World Cup.

Its future is currently uncertain due to the sale of the ground by Shelbourne to businessman Ossie Kilkenny in 2006.[2]

History[edit]

Over the years, seven different League of Ireland clubs have used Tolka Park for home league matches on a regular basis. They are Drumcondra, Shelbourne, Dolphin, Home Farm, Dublin City, Shamrock Rovers and St James Gate F.C..

Home Farm Drums[edit]

Tolka Park was originally home to Drumcondra, who in the 1950s and 1960s were one of the most popular teams in Dublin. The ground hosted its first floodlit game on the 30th of March 1953.[3] However "Drums" merged with local team Home Farm in 1972, After the demise of Drumcondra, Home Farm moved into the ground. However, Home Farm never drew large crowds and Tolka fell into disrepair (though it did host the replay of the 1984 FAI Cup final).

Shelbourne F.C.[edit]

In 1989, Shelbourne, who had played home games regularly in Tolka during the fifties, sixties, seventies, and early eighties, acquired Home Farm's long term lease from Dublin Corporation on the ground. Home Farm moved to their own ground in nearby Whitehall. Shelbourne invested heavily in the stadium, converting it into Ireland's first all-seater stadium and building a new stand behind the Drumcondra end goal in 1999.

The first ever League of Ireland match to be broadcast live on TV was a fixture between Shelbourne and Derry City, staged at Tolka Park during the 1996/97 season.

However, Shelbourne FC ran into several severe problems that have put the future of Tolka Park in doubt. One problem was a flood in 2000 that caused extensive damage to the pitch and greatly increased the club's insurance costs. [4] But a far more serious long-term problem was caused by the club's getting into severe debt through overspending on playing staff. In 2006, Ollie Byrne, Shelbourne Chef Executive sold the ground to property developer Ossie Kilkenny to help repay the club's debts. [5] [6] Shelbourne are still playing at the venue but its future is uncertain. Legal action between the parties who bought the ground delayed its demolition and development. [7] As has a slowdown in the Irish property market. [8] By 2011, the club were reporting that the ground was in need of maintenance. [9]

Shamrock Rovers F.C.[edit]

In 1987, the then owners of Shamrock Rovers, the Kilcoyne family, attempted to move the club to Tolka Park. Rovers played there for a season, but the games were boycotted by their fans, who were trying to save Glenmalure Park from demolition.

Rovers returned to the ground in 1996 which they shared for a time with Shelbourne on and off (1996–1999, 2001–2002, 2004–2005 and 2006–2008) while Tallaght Stadium was being developed. They eventually moved into the Tallaght Stadium in 2009. Rovers' home tie against Sligo Rovers during the 2009 season was moved to Tolka Park amid safety concerns due to construction onsite at Tallaght before the club friendly against Real Madrid.[10]

Other uses[edit]

Tolka Park has staged two full internationals for the Republic of Ireland. Both matches were friendlies against Wales. The stadium hosted the first Setanta Cup final when Linfield defated Shelbourne. The Irish Rugby League Team have also played home games at the ground and hosted one game of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup with Ireland playing New Zealand Māori rugby league team the game ending 30–16 to Ireland. In recognition of the improvement made to stadium, a Republic of Ireland senior international match against Wales was played there in 1993, as were youth, League of Ireland XI and Republic of Ireland B games. From 1999 to 2002 it hosted the FAI Cup final, until the fixture was shifted to Lansdowne Road. Tolka hosted two games in the 2011 UEFA Regions' Cup.

In September 1939 and April 1947 it held boxing championship bouts [11] [12]

Current layout[edit]

Richmond Road[edit]

The Richmond Road Stand or Main Stand runs the length of the north side of the pitch. The Technical area is located at the stand as well as the Box office, Stadium Bar and First aid area. The stand is named after Richmond Road which is directly behind the stand.

Riverside Stand[edit]

The Riverside Stand runs the length of the south side of the pitch. Today it is mainly used for Broadcasting and seating Away fans. It is named after the River Tolka which is nearby.

Drumcondra Stand[edit]

The Drumcondra Stand or New Stand is located behind the goal at the west end of the ground and it is the most recent stand to open in the ground. The stand is named after the town of Drumcondra which is located behind the stand. The Ultras within the club's support base currently congregate in the Drumcondra Stand. The Drumcondra stand also houses the dressing rooms. The club shop is located beside the stand.

Ballybough End[edit]

The Ballybough End is located behind the goal at the east end of the ground. It is named after the town of Ballybough which is located behind the stand. The Ballybough stand has become neglected over the years due to the decreased attendances of Shelbourne and was deemed unsafe and closed by the Dublin Fire Brigade Health and Safety Unit in 2010.

References in popular culture[edit]

  • The ground has appeared in the fictional football drama Dream Team when Harchester United were drawn to play Shelbourne in the UEFA Cup.
  • The ground appeared in football comedy Fran where Fran's club St Peter's United lost a cup final held at Tolka Park.

Future[edit]

Since the sale of Tolka Park in 2006, Shelbourne have been trying to relocate to a new ground. Plans for a new stadium in Finglas and Swords came to nothing, as has an FAI-backed proposed groundshare with North Dublin neighbours Bohemians.

External links[edit]

  • [3] Stadium video tour

References[edit]

Coordinates: 53°22′03.05″N 6°15′07.14″W / 53.3675139°N 6.2519833°W / 53.3675139; -6.2519833

Preceded by
None
Host of the Setanta Sports Cup Final
2005
2006
Succeeded by
Windsor Park