When you manage winter games pitches for the sporting elite, grounds managers are thankful for the summer renovations window which enables them to carry out vital remedial work to tired and worn surfaces.
But what if this renovation window was reduced to just 15 days?
That's just what Noel Connolly, Head Groundsman at Terryland Park in Galway, Ireland, has to contend with each and every year.
The demands placed on the playing surface at Terryland Park are unrelenting. Home to Football Association of Ireland (FAI) Premier Division side Galway United and from this season also hosting first division side Mervue United, it is used throughout the year, hosting League of Ireland fixtures in the summer every week and junior football games in the winter. During March and April the ground can host up to 25 local finals at underage up to senior level, as well as pre-season friendly League of Ireland games. In total, more than 100 matches a year are played there.
With no opportunity to carry out intensive renovations, pitch maintenance has to be thorough and consistent. For the past decade, Noel has operated a programme of soil treatments using Scotts fertilizers with limited applications of React herbicide. Colman Warde, Scotts Country Manager for Ireland, works closely with him. Each year, they conduct a soil analysis before drawing up the correct nutrition programme for the pitches for the coming season. This year, Noel opted to use Scotts grass seed too.
The mixture Colman recommended, ProSelect 1, is a blend of three perennial ryegrasses which have all the desirable characteristics for winter games pitches - superb wear and disease tolerance, rapid establishment and exceptional winter colour.
The mixture qualifies for five of the Scotts seed icons - symbols of excellence for visual merit, wear tolerance, drought tolerance, salt tolerance and cold tolerance. Years of research at Scotts' research centres led to the development of trait-specific grasses which have been subjected to intense trials and have met or surpassed rigid standards for measuring tolerance or resistance. Only the best performing varieties in the testing programmes are awarded an icon so turf professionals can be confident that the grasses they select will meet their specific needs.
"We overseed twice a year, sometimes more in high traffic areas such as goal mouths and linesmen's runs", Noel explained. "Thankfully we're able to move the goals on the pitch by two metres which gives us the option to repair heavily worn patches. Over the past ten years we've gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience of Scotts products and have complete confidence that they will perform in a particular way. The accuracy of the results is consistent enough to allow us to plan our programmes meticulously. I had complete confidence that the mixture Colman recommended was right for our situation and I'm delighted with the results. We've got a dense, disease-free sward with a beautiful dark green colour."
Noel has consistently maintained superb quality pitches at the ground - which is owned by the Galway and District League. He has twice been the recipient of the FAI eircom League of Ireland Groundsman of the Year Award. He is the only full-time groundsman on site, but he is aided throughout the year by a team of four or five part-time staff who carry out maintenance work on the pitch as part of a community employment project.
Colman Warde added: "Noel has always been willing to introduce new products over the years and monitor their efficacy, so when the new Scotts ProSelect range of grass seeds became available I knew he'd be interested in trying them out. The ProSelect 1 mixture contains cultivars which exhibit an excellent dark green colour. It's very quick to establish, produces a very uniform and dense turf and performs well in a wide range of soil types. It also has an improved insect and stress tolerance due to its high endophyte levels. This is becoming more important especially in Ireland as we are having more summer stress due to adverse climatic conditions. Another huge bonus is the superior wear tolerance displayed by the mix and its ability to transition well in overseeding situations."
"It has been a privilege working with such a progressive groundsman over the years and I am confident that Scotts can continue to deliver the high expectation of quality products to Noel and groundsmen like him across the country."
For more information about Scotts grass seed mixtures, visit http://www.scottsprofessional.co.uk/uk/range/170. To find out more about individual varieties and the icon programme, visit www.scottsproseed.co.uk.