Stadium History

The development of Casement Park was a testament to the vision of the Gaels of Belfast to develop a Gaelic games stadium to rival that of any city across Ireland.
The Origins of Casement Park

When Antrim hurlers reached an All-Ireland final in 1943 against Cork – the general consensus in the county was that Antrim hurlers, accustomed to playing on the rough, uneven surface of Corrigan Park were beaten as soon as they played on a fast, level pitch.

The next year a motion was passed at the County Convention to improve the defects in Corrigan Park. A committee was established to raise the funds for the project. This committee soon became known as the Corrigan Park Reconstruction Fund Committee (CPR), the backbone of what would later become Casement Park. Sean McGettigan became the Chairman of the CPR, at its inception in 1944 and held the position until 1944.

Towards the end of the 1940’s, with fundraising going strong, the CPR moved from the idea of redevelopment of Corrigan Park to developing a new stadium outside the city limits and adjacent to the new proposed M1. Two fields separated by a hedge covering 12.5 acres were identified outside the city boundaries and fundraising was ramped up.

The CPR had an original target of around £30,000. Casement Park would cost around £100,000. With additional funds raised they also purchased land at Shaws Road where O’Donovan Rossa, St Pauls and Patrick Sarsfields now have their pitches.

Opening Ceremony

At the opening ceremony on 14th June 1953, an urn of soil from both Semple Stadium and Croke Park was carried into the ground by relay runners who made the journey from Thurles that weekend. The legendary Christy Ring then led Cork against Galway in the hurling challenge game while later in the evening Antrim footballers played Kerry.

The stand in Casement Park was an old aerodrome hanger from St Angelo Airfield just outside of Enniskillen. There was no sideline seating except for inside the stand and spectators would stand on a sloping terrace so that everyone would have a good view of the pitch.

Casement Park Games

One of the biggest games at the ground was the 1961 Ulster football final, as reigning All-Ireland champions Down met Armagh on 23 July. The game was eagerly anticipated between the two great rivals with over 44,000 people coming to see some of the giants of the game battle it out with Down winning and going on to lift the Sam Maguire, once agin, a few months later.

While big games and big names played at Casement Park over the years, the stadium was also vitally important to the underage and juvenile club and schools across Antrim. It staged county finals, inter-county finals in all codes, All Ireland féile, schools, college and university games along with the ever-popular Cumann na mBunscol for primary school children.

The replay of the All-Ireland club hurling final in April 1983 between Loughgiel Shamrocks of Antrim and St Rynagh’s of Offaly was a standout moment in the history of the ground when Loughgiel Shamrocks became the first Antrim club to lift the Tommy Moore Cup.

Casement in the Community

The stadium has a strong heritage in education, being used as a school hosting of the children of Holy Child, St Teresa’s, Glen Road and St Galls from Clonard in the late 1960s.

Casement Park Social Club has been in existence since 1968 and has provided the Antrim County teams with financial support over the years. It has also served the local community with cultural activities and social entertainment.

Despite occupation by the British army, from July 1972 until October 1973 with Operation Motorman, matches were played from Owenvarragh to Mooreland Park along the Andersonstown Road in protest.

Such has been the vocal point of Casement Park for the local community, that many parades, processions and rallies took place over the last 70 years including a re-enactment of 1916 Easter Rising in March 1966 “Seachtar Fear, Seacht Lá”, annual Halloween fireworks displays and the Match for Michaela on the 3 November 2012 when almost 20,000 people attended.