Oriel Park

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Oriel Park
Páirc Airgíalla
Home of Football
Oriel Park on Match Night
AddressOriel Park, Carrickmacross Road,
Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland
Coordinates53°59′55″N 6°25′00″W / 53.99861°N 6.41667°W / 53.99861; -6.41667Coordinates: 53°59′55″N 6°25′00″W / 53.99861°N 6.41667°W / 53.99861; -6.41667
Public transitDundalk railway station
Bus Éireann Route 166
OwnerCasey family (land)
Dundalk Town FC Ltd (stadium)
OperatorDundalk F.C.
TypeFootball stadium
Capacity4,500 (Domestic)
3,100 (European)
Record attendance17,000[a]
(Dundalk vs Celtic F.C., European Cup, 1979)
Field size70 m x 106 m
SurfaceGrass (1919–2005)
FieldTurf (2005-2016)
Limonta Sport Max S (2017– )
Construction
Opened1919
Renovated1936, 1966, 2010
Tenants
Dundalk F.C. (1936-present)

Oriel Park is a UEFA Category 2 football stadium located on the Carrickmacross Road in Dundalk, Ireland. The stadium is the home ground of Dundalk Football Club and is owned and operated by the club on land that has been leased from the Casey family since the mid 1930s.

The ground has a capacity of 3,100 for European matches (i.e. 3,100 seats) and 4,500 for domestic games (i.e. with the remainder standing).[2] Oriel Park's attendance record is an estimated 17,000, set in 1979 for Dundalk's European Cup second round tie against Glasgow Celtic.[3]

Usage[edit]

Oriel Park is primarily used for Dundalk F.C. home matches and training. However the pitch is made available by the club for junior and schools football, and is also available for rent to private groups and clubs in other sporting codes.[4] The ground's public bar, 'The Lilywhite Lounge', is available for social events, as is the members' bar - the Enda McGuill Suite.[5]

Layout[edit]

Oriel Park has an all weather pitch, the current pitch being laid in 2017.[6] There are two covered stands in the ground, one on either side of the pitch. The main stand on the Carrick Road side contains the dressing rooms and the club bars, offices and club shop. The ‘Shed’, on the opposite side, houses the ground’s commentary box and principle camera position. The Shed fronts the club’s Youth Development Centre (YDC), which was built in 2010.[7] There is uncovered seated terracing on either side of the main stand and standing room behind the eastern goal (the 'Town End'). There is an access road to the YDC behind the western goal (the 'Carrick End').

Capacity[edit]

Following the major redevelopment carried out in 1966/67 the capacity of the ground was approx. 12,000. This was increased twice with extra terracing - in advance of the European tie against Glasgow Celtic in 1979, and again in advance of the European tie against Spurs in 1981 - so that the stated capacity of the ground reached approx 22,000.[8] This was all standing capacity with the exception of approx 1,100 seats in the main stand. Since then the capacity has been reduced over time due to the installation of additional seating, the construction of the ground's Youth Development Centre, and modern safety requirements, to give the current figures. However the ground capacity can be increased to approx 5,000 for domestic matches using temporary seating, as was the case for the 2014 League decider.[9]

Transport[edit]

Oriel Park and Dundalk railway station on Carrickmacross Road

Oriel Park is serviced by Dundalk-Clarke railway station on the Belfast-Dublin line, which is 500 metres from the ground. Dundalk bus terminus is located 1.5 km from the ground. Bus route 166 from Dundalk bus terminus to Carrickmacross stops at the railway station. By road, Oriel Park is reached from the south via Exit 16 off the M1 and the Ardee Road (R171); and from the north via Exit 17 off the M1 and the Castleblaney Road (N53). There is no exit from the motorway onto the Carrickmacross Road (R178). Paid car parking is available at the railway station. Limited on-street parking is also available within walking distance.

History[edit]

In 1919 land owned by the Casey family, known as “Casey’s Field”, was made available for junior football matches in the new Dundalk & District League by the League's founder, P.J. Casey. Casey, at the time the Secretary of local junior club Dundalk Town, subsequently joined the management committee of Dundalk G.N.R., before becoming Treasurer of the League of Ireland in 1932.[10] With Casey's assistance Dundalk F.C. moved to Casey's Field on a long-term lease,[11] where the club has remained to date. The club named their new ground "Oriel Park" after the medieval Irish kingdom of Airgíalla. Almost 10 years to the day after Dundalk had played their first League of Ireland match away to Fordsons, the same club (as Cork F.C.) were the first visitors to Oriel Park, with Dundalk winning on a 2-1 scoreline.[12]

Ground developments[edit]

Oriel Park started as little more than a field with a slope. The ground was levelled and workmen from the Great Northern Railway Works in the town supplied fencing and rudimentary terracing made from sleepers. Offices and changing rooms were re-purposed railway carriages. But over the years the club endeavoured to improve what was theirs, often at considerable financial risk:

  • 1940: The first new stand was completed, funded by members’ subscription.[13]
  • 1944: A fire, believed to have been maliciously started, destroys dressing rooms and contents including playing kits for all the club's teams.[14]
  • 1948: With funds coming in from the transfer of players to England, the Stand was enlarged and covered terracing extended. Capital expenditure totalled £2,153 (approx €85,000 in 2019).[15]
  • 1966: By the mid 1960s the ground was in need of modernisation and the members-based ownership, which saw the club break even on an annual basis at best, could not provide the finance required to do it. The club was converted to a Public Limited Company and, as part of a substantial subsequent investment, the pitch was turned 90 degrees, and a new stand incorporating changing rooms, offices and bar facilities was built.[16][17]
  • 1967: Floodlights were installed - the first match under lights being a 1967/68 European Cup tie against Vasas SC of Budapest.[18] The capital debt for the work from 1966 to 1968 reached £51,000 (equivalent to approx €1.1 million in 2019) and would be somewhat of a millstone around the neck of the club for the next decade.[19]
  • 1979: For the European Cup tie with Glasgow Celtic £20,000 (equivalent to €105,000 in 2019) was invested to increase the terraced capacity of the ground to approx 19,000.[20] The stated capacity reached approx 22,000 by 1981.
  • 1982: In advance of their European Cup tie with Liverpool in 1982, the club spent £40,000 (equivalent to approx €130,000 in 2019) on a programme of terrace repairs and ground improvements.[21]
  • 1989: £23,000 of capital expenditure was invested on press facilities and terrace upgrades (equivalent to €51,000 in 2019).[22]
  • 1995: Improvements to the pitch, stand, training pitch and bar and office facilities were completed, eventually totalling approx £300,000 (equivalent to approx €600,000 in 2019).[23] Some of this funding came from National Lottery grants. £40,000 came from fundraising by the Dundalk F.C. Supporters' Club.
  • 2005: In order to reduce the costs of grass-pitch maintenance and to provide an additional source of income for the club, a new all-weather pitch was installed, with total cost, including associated ground works, of an estimated €1.5 million. Approx €1 million of this came from grants.[24] The upgrades required the sale of the club's training ground, Hiney Park, to provide funding.
  • 2006 - 2010: After being obliged to play the home leg of the 2002/03 UEFA Cup qualifying round tie in Tolka Park, approx €1 million was spent on the improvements required to meet licensing standards and UEFA Category 2 stadium standards to permit European matches to return to the ground. The all-weather pitch was upgraded in 2009 in the process.[25]
  • 2010: Youth Development Centre and underground car-park built at a cost of €3,800,000.[7]
  • 2017: New all-weather pitch installed, replacing 2009 pitch.[26][6]
  • 2019: Approx €500,000 spent upgrading the YDC to support Team Operations.[27]


Pitch battle[edit]

During Stephen Kenny's reign a legal dispute arose between the new owners of Dundalk and the previous owner, Gerry Matthews, over the lease of the ground. After the transfer of the club to the new company Dundalk Town FC Limited in 2012, Matthews' company held onto the ground lease and retained ownership of the Youth Development Centre (YDC), built in 2010. This prevented the club's new owners from carrying out any more than basic maintenance at the ground and also meant that the YDC remained unused. Matthews sought €250,000 from the club for the lease and the YDC, threatening to demolish the latter for scrap if there was no agreement.[28] In addition some €430,000 in development levies remained owed to Louth County Council,[29] which the new owners stated they should not be liable for. The dispute, which also involved the Casey family, as the situation was in breach of the terms of the lease, dragged on for over three years. It was eventually resolved in early 2017 and the club regained control of the ground lease.[30]

Notable matches & events[edit]

Football[edit]

Oriel Park, home of Dundalk Football Club

(the following is in addition to notable Dundalk F.C. competitive matches)

Other sports[edit]

  • 1974: Stock Car Racing Irish Championship.[44]
  • 1978: Tug of War World Championship.[45]
  • 1983: Tug of War European Championship.[46]
  • 2010: European Seniors Badminton Championship (in Youth Development Centre).[47]

Images from Oriel Park[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Figure has been quoted as being 17,000 or 21,000.[1] Due to practice of recording 'gates' in monetary terms, the exact number is unknown - as children and pensioners were charged lower prices or let in for free

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hero McLoughlin departs Oriel Park". The Argus. 15 June 1983 – via independent.ie.
  2. ^ "Levadia Tickets Sold Out". dundalkfc.com. 16 July 2018.
  3. ^ Murphy, Paul (8 November 1979). "Cocky home side shock the pride of Scotland". Evening Herald. Retrieved 8 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  4. ^ "Pitch Bookings". dundalkfc.com.
  5. ^ "Bar Bookings". dundalkfc.com.
  6. ^ a b "Oriel Park Stadium Dundalk Ireland". cliverichardsonltd.co.uk. 13 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b Rogers, James (26 March 2016). "I had to close it - I had no other option". The Argus – via independent.ie.
  8. ^ Meagan, Jimmy (3 October 1981). "Oriel Park To Stage Tottenham Treat". The Irish Press. Retrieved 13 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  9. ^ "Matchday Information". dundalkfc.com. 23 October 2014.
  10. ^ Murphy, Jim (2003). History of Dundalk FC - the First 100 Years. Dundalk: Jim Murphy. p. 96.
  11. ^ "Association Football". Drogheda Independent. 1 August 1936. Retrieved 23 April 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  12. ^ "Big Ball Starts Rolling". The Irish Press. 24 August 1936. Retrieved 23 April 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  13. ^ Murphy, Jim (2003). History of Dundalk FC - the First 100 Years. Dundalk: Jim Murphy. p. 116.
  14. ^ "Night fire at Dundalk team's H.Q." Irish Press. 4 March 1944. Retrieved 1 July 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  15. ^ Murphy, Jim (2003). History of Dundalk FC - the First 100 Years. Dundalk: Jim Murphy. p. 154.
  16. ^ Dunne, Noel (6 July 1966). "Transformation by Dundalk F.C." Evening Herald. Retrieved 23 April 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  17. ^ Faiers, David (9 August 1967). "Big Improvements at Oriel". Evening Herald. Retrieved 15 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  18. ^ O'Shea, Tom (21 September 1967). "Standing Ovation For Oriel XI". The Irish Press. Retrieved 8 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  19. ^ CPI Inflation Calculator Inflation Calculator for Ireland
  20. ^ "Dundalk's hard work deserved a plum draw". Sunday Independent. 18 October 1981. Retrieved 19 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  21. ^ "Oriel Park To Get a £40,000 Facelift". Irish Press. 28 July 1982. Retrieved 17 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  22. ^ "Club in Healthy Financial position". Dundalk Democrat. 1 July 1989. Retrieved 10 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  23. ^ Mulligan, John (22 July 1995). "Refurbished club set to join the big league". Evening Herald. Retrieved 6 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  24. ^ McDermott, Gerry (24 August 2005). "Dundalk's pitch battle reaches final countdown". Irish Independent. Retrieved 6 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  25. ^ "Ground Development". dundalkfc.com. 1 July 2010.
  26. ^ "Pitch Development Confirmed". dundalkfc.com. 19 January 2017.
  27. ^ McDonnell, Daniel (15 February 2019). "€500k plan should help champions Dundalk adapt to life after Stephen Kenny". Irish Independent.
  28. ^ Rogers, James (26 March 2016). "I had to close it-I had no other option". Irish Independent – via www.independent.ie.
  29. ^ O'Connor, Ruaidhrí (23 September 2011). "Dundalk seeking solution to €430k debt crisis" – via www.independent.ie.
  30. ^ Fallon, John (22 November 2016). "New dawn at Oriel beckons for Dundalk after sorry saga ends". Irish Independent – via www.independent.ie.
  31. ^ "Louth clubs combine to take on Dublin in Hasty benefit". Drogheda Independent. 13 December 1974. Retrieved 23 April 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  32. ^ Dunne, Noel (17 March 1977). "It's revenge". Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  33. ^ "Giles XI on top at Oriel". Irish Independent. 31 March 1978. Retrieved 9 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  34. ^ Dunne, Noel (19 October 1978). "No score sets Bohemians a daunting task". Irish Independent. Retrieved 1 July 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  35. ^ Kelly, Liam (30 September 1978). "Bohs are confident of sympathetic hearing". Irish Press. Retrieved 1 July 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  36. ^ Faiers, David (1 September 1980). "Linfield will aid Devine Testimonial". Evening Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  37. ^ Hogan, Vincent (15 October 1986). "Gloom as Irish fail at Oriel". Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  38. ^ Dunne, Noel (6 June 1989). "Jack's Boys on the weary side". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 April 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  39. ^ Quinn, Philip (25 April 1990). "Cousins snatches draw for Ireland". Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  40. ^ Quinn, Philip (1 May 1991). "Young Guns are Pole-axed". Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  41. ^ Slevin, Mick (16 November 1993). "Jack puts 'em under pressure!". Irish Press. Retrieved 22 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  42. ^ "Croatian international soccer team..." Dundalk Democrat. 18 May 1996. Retrieved 22 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  43. ^ Fallon, John (25 April 1990). "Doherty goal not enough to save day for King's men". Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 May 2019 – via Irish Newspaper Archives.
  44. ^ "Stock Car Racing". Drogheda Independent. 3 May 1974. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  45. ^ "The Irish do it better?". Cork Examiner. 8 September 1978. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  46. ^ "Eleven countries took part..." Irish Press. 23 August 1983. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  47. ^ Ryan, Olivia (22 September 2010). "Major boost for town from Euro Badminton". The Argus – via independent.ie.

External links[edit]