The Perfect Pitch
The pitch at Croke Park is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.
Games that have been played on the surface include Gaelic games (Hurling, Gaelic football, Camogie), International Rules, Rugby and Soccer. The pitch is amongst the busiest in the world with nearly 90 fixtures per year.
The venue also hosts a series of concerts with bands like U2, Take That and Westlife among the most recent performers.
The pitch is nearly twice the size of a conventional soccer field at 15,000 m2.
At ground level the drainage system installed is connected to huge suction fans which allow us to blow air through the pitch and suck water out. These pipes are covered with a 300 mm layer of permeable pebble stone which has a drainage rate of about 900 mm per hour. Over this a carefully selected Wexford sand forms the lower rootzone into which the undersoil heating system is installed. The undersoil heating system works on a series of hot water pipes transferring heat to the sand rootzone. The sand continues to a depth of 260 mm with a specialist fibre stabilising agent tilled into the sand to keep the surface stable. On top of this is a 40 mm specialist sod which is a 100% natural sandy loam soil. The sward (upper layer of soil) is covered in 100% perennial ryegrass.
Download the Croke Park Pitch Diagram
During the returfing operation in July 2009, 1500 roles of turf were installed on the pitch in just 3 days with games played immediately afterwards. The pitch also has a fully automatic irrigation system which allows water application for grass growth and preparation for play.
Although the stadium is well designed, the covered end (Davin) does pose restrictions for light intensity on the pitch, especially during winter. This means that artificial lighting rigs are needed to supplement sun light on the pitch and allow the grass to grow in the shade.
Croke Park employ three professional groundsmen and daily tasks include pedestrian mowing and pitch repairs. Croke Park operates an environmentally friendly cultural management system on the turf which involves a series of mechanical renovations yearly to improve pitch performance and minimise pests. The turf is fed low dose applications of nutrient feed on a regular basis and has approximately 40% less fertiliser usage that equivalent facilities internationally due to the specific nutrient management programme. Specialist seaweed extracts and organic fertilisers are also used to improve plant strength, colour and vigour. Spiking the pitch is carried out monthly with hollow-coring and sand topdressing also forming part of the operation. Preparation for matches includes striping the pitch in 2 directions and marking with specialist laser controlled markers to ensure perfectly straight lines.
GAA: 144m x 86m;
Soccer: 104m x 70m;
Rugby: 100m x 70m (along with 10m behind each goal)