Thomond Park

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Thomond Park
Páirc Thuamhan [1] [2]
Fortress Thomond
Thomond Park.jpg
View of east stand after redevelopment
Location Limerick
Coordinates 52°40′27″N8°38′33″W / 52.67417°N 8.64250°W / 52.67417; -8.64250 Coordinates: 52°40′27″N8°38′33″W / 52.67417°N 8.64250°W / 52.67417; -8.64250
Public transit Limerick railway station
Ballynanty Road bus stop
Owner Irish Rugby Football Union
Capacity 25,600 [3] (15,100 seated) [lower-alpha 1]
SurfaceGrass
Opened1940
Tenants
Munster Rugby
Shannon RFC
UL Bohemian RFC
Limerick FC (2013-15)

Thomond Park is a stadium in Limerick in the Irish province of Munster. The stadium is owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union [4] and has Munster Rugby, Shannon RFC and UL Bohemian RFC as tenants. Limerick FC played home games in Thomond Park from 2013 to 2015 in the League of Ireland while the Markets Field was being redeveloped. The capacity of the stadium is 25,600 following its large-scale redevelopment in 2008. [3]

Limerick City in Munster, Ireland

Limerick is a city in County Limerick, Ireland. It is located in the Mid-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. With a population of 94,192, Limerick is the third-most populous urban area in the state, and the fourth-most populous city on the island of Ireland. The city lies on the River Shannon, with the historic core of the city located on King's Island, which is bounded by the Shannon and Abbey Rivers. Limerick is also located at the head of the Shannon Estuary, where the river widens before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Limerick City and County Council is the local authority for the city.

Republic of Ireland Country in Europe on the island of Ireland

Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern side of the island. Around a third of the country's population of 4.9 million people resides in the greater Dublin area. The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, St George's Channel to the south-east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann, an upper house, Seanad Éireann, and an elected President who serves as the largely ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach, who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.

Provinces of Ireland Historic territorial division of the island of Ireland

Since the early 17th-century there have been four Provinces of Ireland: Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; however, in the medieval period there were more. The number of provinces and their delimitation fluctuated until 1610 when they were permanently set by the English administration of James I. The provinces of Ireland no longer serve administrative or political purposes, but function as historical and cultural entities.

Contents

History

The stadium holds a special place in rugby due to its own unique history and atmosphere. [5] [6] The stadium is famed for its noise during play and the complete silence while home and away players are kicking for goal. [7] Munster also retained an intimidating 12-year unbeaten run at Thomond in the Heineken Cup—running from the competition's start in 1995 until 2007 when the Leicester Tigers broke the streak with a 13–6 win. It is at Thomond Park that Munster celebrated their 12–0 victory over the All Blacks in 1978.

Pre redevelopment

Thomond Park (named after the medieval kingdom of Thomond) originally consisted of two pitches, the main pitch and a training pitch. The main pitch was bounded on all sides by terracing with a stand above the west terrace. The training pitch was behind the west stand with the Shannon R.F.C. pavilion in the southwest corner of the ground. The UL Bohemian R.F.C. pavilion was within the west stand.

Thomond kingdom in south Ireland

Thomond was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland, associated geographically with present-day County Clare and County Limerick, as well as parts of County Tipperary around Nenagh and its hinterland. The kingdom represented the core homeland of the Dál gCais people, although there were other Gaels in the area such as the Éile and Eóganachta, and even the Norse of Limerick. It existed from the collapse of the Kingdom of Munster in the 12th century as competition between the Ó Briain and the Mac Cárthaigh led to the schism between Thomond and Desmond. It continued to exist outside of the Anglo-Norman controlled Lordship of Ireland until the 16th century.

Terrace (stadium) traditional standing area of a sports stadium

A terrace or terracing in sporting terms refers to the standing area of a sports stadium, particularly in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. It is a series of concrete steps, with intermittent safety barriers installed at specific locations to prevent an excessive movement of people down its slope.

Traditionally, the former terracing and four sides of the pitch had local nicknames, however they have since fallen out of local parlance. The most famous of these was the east terrace, which was known among fans as the "Popular side", this sat opposite the "Stand side", joining the "City End" (South Terrace) with the "Ballynanty End" (North Terrace). [8] [9] The "Popular side" gained notoriety in local rugby folklore for the colourful comments that can be heard emanating from local wags and alickadoos in the direction of the pitch, occasionally drawing reaction from players and officials, to the amusement of other attendants. [8]

Ballynanty, or Ballynanty Beg, is one of the older neighbourhoods on the north side of Limerick in the mid-west of Ireland.

The highest pre-redevelopment official attendance in Thomond Park was 18,000 people and occurred in 1992 in a local derby in the All-Ireland League between clubs Shannon RFC and Garryowen FC. [10] Munster's average league attendance for the 2013–14 Pro12 season was 12,334 [11]

The 2013–14 Pro12 was the 13th season of the Pro12 rugby union competition originally known as the Celtic League, the fourth with its current 12-team format, and the third with RaboDirect as title sponsor.

Redevelopment

Munster Fans at a game in the stadium in April 2010 Munster Crowds ( vs Northampton Saints).jpg
Munster Fans at a game in the stadium in April 2010

In 1998 and 1999, following the introduction of the professional era, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) spent several million pounds on floodlighting, terracing, toilets, medical facilities and a new pitch for the ground. In January 2006, the Munster Branch of the IRFU made offers to buy some adjacent houses to expand the stadium. In March 2006 the IRFU and Munster Rugby announced that Thomond Park was unanimously selected for the site of the branch's new stadium, and in May 2006 the design for the re-development was unveiled.[ citation needed ] Work started in early 2007, and the project was completed for a re-opening in Autumn 2008.

Irish Rugby Football Union Governing body for rugby union on the island of Ireland

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) is the body managing rugby union in the island of Ireland. The IRFU has its head office at 10/12 Lansdowne Road and home ground at Aviva Stadium, where adult men's Irish rugby union international matches are played. In addition, the Union also owns the Ravenhill Stadium in Belfast, Thomond Park in Limerick and a number of grounds in provincial areas that have been rented to clubs.

The principal elements of the project saw the erection of two new stands adjacent to the existing main pitch, with a seating capacity of 15,100 and terrace capacity of 10,530, or 25,630 in all. [12]

It was thought that Thomond Park would be renamed in a sponsorship deal, following its redevelopment. [13] However, it was confirmed in February 2008 that the name Thomond Park would remain the same, with naming rights being sold for the individual stands instead. [14]

Atmosphere

Thomond Park is well known for its atmosphere. During a rugby match, the home fans can be heard singing songs such as "The Fields of Athenry" and "Stand Up and Fight". These two songs play a vital role in Munster rugby as they are Munster's anthems. Donal Spring, one of the heroes of 1978, credits the spectators for its unique ethos: "What's so special about Thomond Park? The crowd. Simply the crowd. The atmosphere is electric. Of all the places I've played, playing with Munster at Thomond Park is what I’ve enjoyed most." [15]

The home crowd is also famous for its silence when a team's kicker is kicking for goal. This has been known to put the away team's kicker off, although it is done out of respect.

In August 2013 Thomond Park was awarded the title of 'Best Rugby Stadium in the World' following a vote by rugby supporters across the globe. [16]

International matches

Thomond Park has hosted five Ireland internationals. The results are as follows:

DateOpponentsFinal scorePart of
19 March 1898Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 3 – 11 1898 Home Nations Championship
7 September 2002Flag of Romania.svg  Romania 39 – 8Friendly
30 August 2003Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 61 – 6Friendly (warm up for 2003 Rugby World Cup)
8 November 2008Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 55 – 0Friendly
17 November 2012Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji 53 – 0Guinness Autumn International Series

It also hosted a 1999 Rugby World Cup Pool 5 match between Australia and United States on 14 October 1999. Australia won 55–19.

Other sporting fixtures

Limerick F.C. played Shamrock Rovers in the League of Ireland Shield and BSC Young Boys in the European Cup in 1960 and Torino in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1971 in Thomond.

Limerick F.C. played all their Airtricity League Premier League home fixtures for the 2013 season at Thomond Park.

They also have played Manchester City FC twice in friendlies in 1992 and 2012 [17]

The Republic of Ireland national football team played two international friendlies in Thomond during the construction of the Aviva Stadium. The first, on 12 August 2009 against Australia drew a crowd just above 19,000. Australia won 3–0. Ireland played and defeated South Africa 1–0 at Thomond on 8 September 2009 to a crowd of 11,300.

The Irish heats of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games took place over four days here in June 2010. [18]

On 5 November 2011, the stadium hosted its first Rugby league game when Ireland took on France.

On 9 November 2013, Thomond Park hosted Ireland's 2013 Rugby League World Cup Group A match with Australia. [19]

It hosted an International Champions Cup match between Internazionale and Celtic on 13 August 2016 with Internazionale winning 2-0.

Concerts

Attendances

The highest pre-redevelopment official attendance in Thomond Park came in 1992 when a local derby in the All-Ireland League between clubs Shannon RFC and Garryowen FC saw an attendance of 18,000 people. [10] Munster's average league attendance for the 2014–15 Pro12 season was 13,179, the third highest in the league. [20]

Notes

  1. Thomond Park's official capacity is 25,600 but can be expanded up to 26,276 with temporary seating.

See also

Notes and references

  1. "Ní rugbaí go Páirc Thuamhan!". smaointefanacha.blogspot.ie.
  2. "Féasta iontach rugbaí romhainn arís agus na cúigí réidh chun catha".
  3. 1 2 "Thomond Park Developments". Munster Rugby. 21 June 2007. Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  4. "History of the IRFU". Irish Rugby Football Union. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  5. Melville, Nigel (21 January 2004). "Fingers get burned when the home fire is stoked in Munster". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  6. "Michael Corcoran: Top 10". RTÉ News. 21 May 2008.[ permanent dead link ]
  7. "Man arrested in connection with Dundalk robbery". 29 October 2002.
  8. 1 2 "Gatland must resist desire to change for the sake of it". Irish Independent. 24 March 1998. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012.
  9. Fanning, Brendan (2 December 2001). "Ireland's Holland okay for Munster". Irish Independent.
  10. 1 2 http://www.limerickleader.ie/sport/AIB-AllIreland-League-clicks-into.3415593.jp
  11. "Home Attendance RaboDirect PRO12 13/14" . Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  12. Geraghty, Pat (21 June 2007). "Thomond Park Developments". Munster Rugby. Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
  13. "Thomond Park set to be renamed". RTÉ News. 20 June 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2008.
  14. European Rugby Cup : Thomond Park Name to Remain a Fixture in Europe
  15. Mulqueen, Charlie; O'Dowd, Brendan (2015). The Story of Thomond Park: Where Miracles Happen. Cork: The Collins Press. ISBN   9781848892552.
  16. "Thomond Park Stadium named best in the world". www.stadiadirectory.com. 7 August 2013. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  17. The Irish Times http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2012/0806/1224321572697.html.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. 1 2 Limerick prepares to host Special Olympics. RTÉ. 9 June 2010.
  19. "Rugby League World Cup 2013 fixtures". RFL. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  20. "Home Attendance RaboDirect PRO12 14/15" . Retrieved 17 January 2016.

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