UCD have announced the planned installation of a new internationally certified playing surface at the UCD Hockey Stadium in Belfield with the aim of being ready to potentially host the next stage of the women’s Olympic qualifying process.
“We are delighted to announce the resurfacing of the main pitch at our Hockey Stadium which has reached the end of its lifespan after providing our students with fantastic sporting moments and memories over the past 20 years,” Dominic O’Keeffe, UCD’s Director of Student Services and Facilities said at the announcement.This launch came on the same day as the new training base for the Irish senior men and women was announced at Abbotstown.
The current playing surface was installed over 23 years ago, hosting the women’s World Cup in 1994 and the men’s European Championships a year later.
The surface has been repaired on multiple occasions over its lifetime, with its most recent repair occurring over 10 years ago.
The new surface is planned for installation over an eight-week window between April and May with the aspiration of facilitating club and international fixtures from June onward.
The surface is FIH approved and designed with a “non-directional” yarn that is playable with or without watering.
The cost to replace the surface is estimated be between €350,000 and €400,000. In addition to the surface cost, further works will be carried out to realign the pitch, upgrade the lighting system, install new dugouts and a permanent TV gantry and add international standard goals as well as further works for venue quality assurance purposes.
The university will cover the cost of the pitch replacement and improvements. Previously, UCD and Hockey Ireland went in as a joint-venture on pitch development but this change means Hockey Ireland will no longer have an allocation of pitch time at the venue.
Nonetheless, UCD is still very much open to hosting international events run by Hockey Ireland with the timeframe designed to have the venue ready in time for the women’s Hockey Series Finals in June. This is the next phase in the Olympic qualifying process.
“With regards pitch time, UCD are long-established friends of Irish hockey and will continue to support their endeavours into the future. Finally, I can clarify all costs are solely covered by UCD on this project.”
Currently, UCD Men’s and Ladies Hockey Clubs run two men’s teams and eight ladies teams.
The news was favourably welcomed by current UCD and Irish international players Hannah McLoughlin, Clodagh Cassin and Lena Tice at the launch.
Tice is one of several players from the World Cup silver medal winning side to have benefitted from the university’s Ad Astra scholarship system, which supports students who excel in academics and sport.
“We are surrounded by passionate young people who opt to break boundaries by succeeding on the field and in the classroom, and we hope our investment mirrors their level of ambition,” O’Keeffe concluded.