Donal Lenihan has spoken of the need for Pairc Uí Chaoimh to become a regular host of Munster rugby fixtures, in light of the recent Ed Sheeran/Aviva Stadium debacle.
The ex-Munster and Irish international remains one of the leading voices in the media when it comes to the topic of Munster rugby, and he believes that the big fixtures need to be spread out across the province and not be confined to Limerick.
The topic of conversation has been brought on by the fact that Munster have been forced to play their ‘home’ Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulouse in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The situation is down to Munster rugby booking an Ed Sheeran concert at Thomond Park for the day before the game. Without context, it seems like an absurd situation.
However, there are a number of factors at play, such as the money generated by the concerts, and the financial difficulties brought on by Covid and Munster’s debt from the rebuilding of Thomond Park, which Lenihan describes as “a noose over their neck.”
Despite Pairc Uí Chaoimh being unavailable to host Munster’s Champions Cup quarter-final this year with the Munster hurling championship underway, Lenihan believes that the ground must be used in the future, and stated such when speaking on the RTE Rugby Podcast.
“Munster, they’ve done feasibility studies on playing big games in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. They’ve done it on the basis of 30,000, 35,000, to a 45,000 crowd and it’s very feasible. I know from my own contacts that the Cork County Board, who are also desperate to pay the debt on the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh, they’re crying out for Munster to play in Pairc Ui Caoimh.”
“Munster v Leinster, St Stephen's Day. They have to give one of those to Pairc Uí Chaoimh, I guarantee you you'll get a 45,000 sellout crowd."
While a 45,000 sellout crowd may be ambitious, a Munster rugby game in what is a phenomenal new stadium would be a sight to behold. The Thomond Park capacity is 25,600.
Of course, Munster would need permission from the GAA to play games in the stadium.
Cork’s Musgrave Park, which regularly holds smaller Munster games, has shown the special atmosphere of Munster games in Cork, albeit on a much smaller scale.
Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney and Semple Stadium in Thurles were also looked at as potential venues for the clash with Toulouse, but as Lenihan notes, their corporate areas are not up to scratch for such a fixture.
Given all of these factors, an important Munster rugby game in Pairc Uí Chaoimh, may be on the cards in the near future.
To help with the attendance for their Champions Cup quarter-final Munster have released information on favourable ticket prices, and discounted tickets for the match.
Adult tickets will start at €20, and €10 for juniors. Munster clubs and schools will be offered bus subsidies for group travel, and supporters’ buses from locations throughout the province are also being arranged, subject to demand. Discounted tickets will also be available for members of the MRSC and priority ticket holders.