Ulster GAA President Oliver Galligan, county chairman Ciaran McCavana and St John Chairman Gerry McCann were joined by representatives of the Saffron Business Forum, Club Aontroma and fellow supporters of Antrim GAA, at Monday morning’s ceremonial sod-cutting at Corrigan Park as Phase One of the project to build a new stand at the famous old ground got underway. Chairman of the project’s steering committee Collie Donnelly spoke about the pride he felt at finally seeing the venture get underway. Donnelly, a former St John’s and Antrim hurler, who was also chairman of the Antrim county board, was one of the leading lights in driving the project forward. The St John’s man was quick to point out that this was far from a one man campaign and had high praise for his former colleagues on the Antrim county board, the current board, the Ulster Council, fundraising groups within the county like the Saffron Business Forum and Club Aontroma. Collie also singled out former GAA Director General Páraic Duffy who he said had given great help and support during the venture.
One of the project will see a covered seating area which will hold 500 people, with terracing for a further 2000 along the side of the pitch where the old stand once was. Phase Two will see terracing added on the other side of the ground which would raise the capacity of the ground to 5000. With Phase One underway it is hoped that the new facilities will be ready by time the Antrim championships get underway in August and it is likely that the county finals will be played there this year, that is of course provided St John’s are not one of the teams involved.
Corrigan Park was the main ground for Antrim GAA before the opening of Casement Park in 1953. It is named in honour of Sean Corrigan, mentor of the Brian Óg club who were Antrim‘s first hurling champions.
Corrigan Park was associated with the run of the Antrim hurling team to the final of the 1943 All Ireland championship, the Saffrons claiming the scalps of Galway in the semi-final and Kilkenny in the final
Corrigan Park staged the All Ireland Camogie finals of 1944, 1946 and 1947, two of which were won by the Antrim girls, It also staged several of Antrim’s semi-finals in that period and became known as the home of camogie during that golden era.
Among the major football championship matches it staged were the Cavan-Antrim Ulster championship semi-finals of 1930, 1931 and 1949. Its last major provincial football championship match was Antrim v Donegal in the Ulster championship of 1952.