The Irish Institute of Sports Surfaces (IISS) - www.irishsportsurf.ie - has unveiled a new awards scheme to recognise and reward the high standards of groundsmanship achieved by Ireland's volunteer Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) groundsmen.
The Playing Surface of the Year Awards have been created in association with the Leinster Council of the GAA and specialist grass seed breeder Barenbrug by the IISS, a newly-formed body dedicated to promoting and implementing the professional development of people who maintain and manage sports surfaces in Ireland.
Says IISS managing director Donal Kearney of the scheme: "The Club Playing Surface of the Year Awards have been created to highlight the hard work of the GAA volunteers whose dedication and endeavours have long gone unnoticed - until now. We hope that the awards will encourage others to get involved in the maintenance of GAA surfaces and raise standards of sports turf care even higher. Our thanks to the Leinster Council of the GAA and Barenbrug for their support."
Sheamus Howlin, chairman of the Leinster Council of the GAA, adds: "All our players begin their sporting careers with their local club - the heart and soul of the GAA. Good playing conditions are essential for the development of players' skills and their enjoyment of the game, hence anything that encourages and promotes the development of our pitches is to be supported. Leinster GAA is happy to be associated with the awards - we wish the IISS the very best with the project and also welcome Barenbrug's involvement."
GAA volunteers interested in entering can find out more at www.irishsportsturf.ie before the closing date of September 5. Judging will take place later in September before the winners are announced in November. The overall winning club will win up to 10 bags of Barenbrug grass seed plus expert product support as well as advice specially tailored to their requirements from the IISS.
Neil Pettican, Barenbrug area manager for Ireland, concludes: "I'm delighted Barenbrug is supporting this important initiative. Ireland is a key market for us and we're looking forward to helping improve standards further by raising awareness of the importance of correct grass seed selection in achieving quality surfaces. Best of luck to everyone entering."
For more information visit www.barenbrug.co.uk
Picture caption: Celebrating the creation of the new Playing Surface of the Year Awards are, from left, Donal Kearney, Sheamus Howlin and the Irish Institute of Sports Surfaces' Terrence McShea.