The news that the redevelopment of Dalymount Park is to be delayed for two years broke this week and meant different things to different people. Some people were annoyed at the delay, seeing it as putting the development in jeopardy – ‘’if it’s going to happen, what’s wrong with now’’ being the thinking. Others thought the extra time is just a case of ‘’getting the i’s dotted and t’s crossed’’ before the bulldozers eventually move in to redevelop Dalymount.
Just to recap. Bohs were meant to move out of Dalymount at the end of the current season, to share Tolka Park with Shelbourne for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, at which point Tolka would be redeveloped as apartments. The brand-new Dalymount Park would be ready for the 2020 season for both clubs to share.
The news last week was music to my ears because it effectively means that Tolka Park, my favourite League of Ireland ground apart from the Carlisle Grounds, has got a stay of execution for two years beyond 2019. It will continue to host Shelbourne games for 2018 and 2019, and then Bohemians and Shelbourne games for 2020 and 2021. That’s four years’ worth of soccer left in the old turf yet. Happy days.
The extra two years before Shelbourne have to move into Dalymount gives them 4 seasons to get promoted and re-establish themselves as a major player in Irish soccer. They have been there before and can get back there again. Instead of the talk being of the ‘big three’ of Rovers, Pats and Bohs in Dublin, the ‘big four’ of the early 2000’s can be resurrected.
A strong Shelbourne at the time of their eventual move to Dalymount will give them the best chance of settling into Dalymount as a team in their own right and able to draw decent crowds, rather than just ‘that lot that play at Dalymount when Bohs are away’.
Presumably some money will have to be spent on Tolka now, if it is to be shored up for the next 4 years. The playing surface is in good condition, it’s just most of the rest of the stadium that is the problem – a bit like Dalymount.
Tolka is only down the road from my house. When it eventually goes I’ll miss having the luxury of being able to walk to a League of Ireland game. It will be sad too to think of all the history of the stadium, all the famous games that have been played there, all the excitement and thrills and spills, being churned up and covered in concrete. Thankfully this won’t be for 4 years. Who knows, maybe it will never happen!