UCD opened their upgraded Belfield pitch this week as the club looks forward to a busy season with both the men’s and women’s first teams prepare for EYHL campaigns.
The works took place over the summer and saw the pitch re-levelled, re-carpeted and a new floodlighting system and fence installed bringing the stadium up to FIH standards.
On the recent resurfacing of the pitch, Dominic O’Keeffe, UCD’s Director of Student Services and Facilities, said: “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.”
Women’s coach Miles Warren is thrilled to finally get out onto the pitch after a couple of years of wait for the turf to go down.
“We have been waiting for this pitch for a couple of years so we are just so happy to be playing on it now. It’s one of the best there is in terms of surface while the spec around the place are so good.
“It’s playing beautifully and so we have a lovely home venue and we can take a really good home advantage. It’s a wonderful facility – nice, bright UCD blue!”
He saw his side win 4-1 against the Leinster Under-18s on launch night; earlier, the men’s team lost 4-0 to Loughborough but did draw 3-3 with the top English university a day earlier.
New UCD men’s coach Michael Styles said: “It’s a fantastic pitch and the facilities here in UCD are absolutely brilliant. An FIH approved pitch is amazing for us to play on, definitely one of the top pitches in the country.”
He hopes it will be part of an overall environment at the club to push the top teams now they are back at the highest level this season.
“We have a good few Under-21 internationals that are looking to break into that senior team and hopefully they feel UCD is the place they can do that. We have a great gym setup, excellent physiotherapy and strength and conditioning.
“The aim is to try and create a place for these lads to study and play towards their goals. Hopefully we can start to match the women and get players into those international teams.”
On a weekly basis, the venue welcomes between 500 to 600 people between trainings and games. In addition, the surface will be used by the clubs teams while Genesis, YMCA, Pembroke, Our Ladies Grove, Lycee Francaise D’Ireland and the Teresian School regular users of the venue.