Semple Stadiums exclusion as one of the six stadia being put forward by the IRFU in it’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup of 2023, is down to the fact that there is not enough hotel accommodation in the town, The Tipperary Star can reveal.
Despite the fact that the stadium is the second most prominent GAA stadium in the country, and is probably third overall after Croke Park and the Aviva, the famous hurling mecca has been ignored for now by the IRFU. Not even the acknowledged brilliance of the carpet-like sod could entice the rugby authorities to look the way of the Cathedral Town, since there simply are not enough hotel beds in the area to cope with the demand should the IRFU application be successful.
Semple Stadium is capable of holding about 55,000 spectators, but Thurles and it’s immediate environs could scarely sleep 1,000. And, because of this the IRFU has been forced to look elsewhere to the larger towns and cities, which may have inferior stadia, but which can cater for the larger bed demands.
The issue had been debated at a meeting of Thurles Town Council with councillors expressing their disappointment at the decision. And, it was raised also at a meeting of the County Tipperary GAA Board by Sarsfields delegate Peter Lanigan who described it as a disgrace that Thurles should be left out of the bid.
“To say that this superb field and venue should be left out because of hotel accommodation is a disgrace. It should be highlighted that it is not because of Semple Stadium that we have not been included, but rather because of the lack of hotel facilities. The amount of young people leaving this area in search of work is staggering. And yet, we have a chance here where people may be able to get something which would keep them here for a while, give them a bit of employment and put a few Euro in their pockets. I think we should revisit this and I guarantee you, a half an hours drive from Thurles in all directions would provide plenty of hotel facilities,” he said.
Gerry McDonnell agreed that lack of hotel beds in the town was hardly a viable excuse for Semple Stadium not being included, but Secretary Timmy Floyd replied that a feasibility study had been carried out on the town a few years ago with a view to holding Congress in Thurles. 500 beds would be required for this but they were not available in Thurles and the Congress went elsewhere.
Central Council delegate John Costigan added that the report is only a preliminary one for the time being and if it was decided that a formal application would be made for the World Cup, Semple Stadium could be included at a later stage.
Ardfinnan delegate Seanie Barrett advised the Board not “to lose any sleep over it.”