Celtic Park – Ground Information
There is a view abroad that the city of Derry is a bit of a wasteland for the GAA and that the locals look askance at any one who mentions football and isn’t talking about Celtic or indeed Derry City. This does the city and its folks a disservice – it is fuelled in part by the anti Celtic Park caucus which maintains matches should be played in South Derry. (Where exactly in South Derry has never been adequately answered by any of the anti-brigade.)
Celtic Park is a haven of our games in the city and to be fair to the Derry Co Board it is made available for matches to those clubs that maybe don’t have the facilities of their illustrious country cousins. The games themselves are better organised and resourced in the City than outsiders think and a number of initiatives are in place to drive the development on including work by Derry City Council. In recent years for example Steelstown have opened their own facilities and City hurling outfit Na Magha intend to follow suit in the near future.
Celtic Park is a compact ground with a decent capacity of around 18,000 and has good banks of terracing on three sides which make for good sightlines to watch the on pitch-action. When there is a full house the natural amphitheatre helps generate an atmosphere which would be unlikely in venues in Ballinascreen or Glen Maghera or indeed some so called ‘better’ county grounds.
The main downside of Celtic Park is the current lack of a covered stand. That is due to be addressed in the next couple of years under the Derry Co Board’s development plans. In the meantime creature comforts extend to pile-inducing concrete seating on either side of the pitch. Simple advice – if you plan to sit bring something to place between your rear and the concrete unless you have loads of on-board natural padding. In ground refreshments extend to a shop selling the usual medley of soft drinks, crisps, chocolate etc.
Travel and Parking
Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels
If it’s beer you’re after, local hostelries round Celtic Park tend to be no-nonsense establishments where GAA folk are welcome. The ground is in the heart of Derry’s West Bank so there is no danger of a lost fan from one of the 26 venturing into the wrong place. Although the locals may be predominantly soccer people, bars such as Maileys and the Brandywell Inn located within a couple of minutes of Celtic Park are does-what-it-says-on-the-tin-type-bars – the décor in the former reflects local punters’ interests with a prominent the roll of honour (and that isn’t a list of Derry senior championship winners!).
Five minutes or so from Celtic Park are the Derby Bar, the Park Bar and the Don Bar (identified by a mural of Don Corleone for some reason). If you point yourself in the direction of the spires of St Eugene’s Cathedral you are on the right track – these establishments nestle in the lee of the spires. Note if you target the wrong cathedral you could end up in the Fountain area which wouldn’t have the same ‘gra for the GAA’ so be careful to be clear when orientating yourself or asking directions that you make it clear you’re for the match.
If you are looking a feed before or after the game you’ll get decent food in the City Hotel (good but maybe a bit pricier) the Metro in the middle of the City, Beckett’s or Badgers. If you plan eating on one of these joints make sure you allow yourself time to get across the city to the ground as there are only a couple of roads in and out and although it isn’t far, parking can be hectic enough when there is a match on.