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OPINION | Semple Left An Impression On Us All

Wednesday 22.07.2015
Team Talk Mag

There was a lovely piece penned by Tyrone GAA earlier in the week summing up their experience in Semple Stadium last Saturday.  That article entitled “The Homeliness of Tipperary” has quite rightly received some excellent feedback and it can be viewed on the Tyrone GAA Facebook page on this link.

This is our take on our first visit to the town where it all began.

Semple Welcome An Example For Others

There’s a very simple sign above the entrance to the pitch in the old stand in Thurles.  That sign sums up very nicely what that piece of grass means to the people of Thurles and Tipperary.

“Staid Semple Stadium Field of Legends”

There’s been a GAA field on that plot of land for almost ninety years now and while some sections of the stadium may be a little long in the tooth there’s no denying that atmosphere, passion and pride pours out from each and every square foot of the place.

The sign might well be refer to the players that have and will grace that field in years to come but the words equally apply to the people of Thurles and Tipperary and the individuals that look after the facility.

On entering the ground we were afforded a warm welcome from the Stadium Director David Moran.  He may be a Limerick man but after a short tour of the stadium you could clearly see where his energy and enthusiasm rests now.  A walk along the wall of legends included a trip to the changing rooms and an introduction to groundsman Dave Hanley.  Dave may be short in stature but he stands tall amongst his peers.

daveThe Semple pitch is quite rightly regarded by many as the best playing surface in Ireland.  The people of Tipperary and in particular the Semple Stadium staff take great pride in the condition of the field but they aren’t precious about it.  There isn’t a single sign around the place to warn people from stepping out onto it.

From what we could see the practice is encouraged.  When the final whistle went the majority of the 4,620 fans from both counties made their way out onto the grass where both sets of supporters were afforded well over thirty minutes after the final whistle to mingle with the players from both counties.  Groundsman Hanley was almost apologetic about having to ask people to leave the surface before he went on to re-mow it and leave it in the pristine condition that we had all found it in.

In an era when GAA facilities are sometimes surrounded by a ring of steel it was refreshing to see how at ease the Semple Stadium staff were with people taking in each and every ounce of their quite stunning facility.  It was an afternoon and a welcome that few of us who were there are likely to forget.



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