Capacity: 4,500 (Seats 3,000)
Address: Carrickmacross Road, Dundalk
Telephone: (+353) 42 933 5894
Pitch Size: 106m x 70m
Club Nickname: Lillywhites
Home Kit: White and Black
For the older generation who believe all football grounds should be close to the town centre, with no maps required, just the sight of four traditional floodlight pylons on full beam appearing over rooftops to guide the visitor to the match; then Oriel Park is for you! The ground is located on the west side of Dundalk, and pleasingly is fairly close to both the main line Railway Station and the busy town centre. The ground approach from the Railway Station bridge along Carrickmacross Road is a typically urban scene, a roadway darts to the left between a petrol station and housing. The tall yet narrow rear cladding and dark grey and white brickwork of the Main Stand is the first thing visitors see, with a sign on the top left of the stand proclaiming 'Oriel Park-The home of football'. On matchdays all parts of the ground are accessed from turnstiles to the left and right of the Main Stand. Entering the ground through the home turnstiles to the left of the Main Stand we see the Town End, behind the goal immediately to the left. This gently sloped grassed bank backs onto a whitewashed boundary wall and has tall fencing in its middle section to prevent stray balls being lost in the fields behind. As far as we are aware the grassed bank can be used by supporters wishing to stand, with the pathway at the front used to access the seating on the South side of the ground. Dundalk are one of a number of clubs across Ireland who have realised their ground location and land could be used as an asset to help to raise finances either to fund stadium redevelopment, new players or just to keep the club going. There has always been a pitch length terrace with a central covered section known as 'The Shed' on the South side of the ground, but behind this used to be a rectangular shaped area of open wasteland. This was redeveloped a few years ago and the Oriel Active Youth Development Centre was built upon it, which backs directly onto that side of the ground. The South side as it appears now has far less character, with the shed demolished and open terracing replaced by seating, only the central television gantry appears to have survived, with a new low cover emerging from the grey cladding of the youth development centre.
A drawback of having the youth development centre within the stadium site is that the Carrickmacross End, formerly a narrow open terrace has effectively become a flat featureless wide access road leading from the Oriel Active Centre entrance to a new gate installed between the floodlights and the rear boundary. Putting old ground sentiments aside however all football clubs need to adapt to survive and possibly the most significant change to happen at the ground was in 2005 when Dundalk became the first Irish club to install an artificial playing surface. This has allowed the club to hire out its playing surface and facilities on non matchdays for local groups wishing to use the venue for non football events and indeed they have, with local school sports days, rugby and junior GAA games boasting the club's income and turning Oriel Park into a true hub of the community. Turning finally to the Main Stand side of the ground, the Main Stand, originally constructed in the 1960's, sits proudly on the pitch centre line. The steep seating deck is raised above the club offices and players dressing rooms, and has around 1,000 grey plastic seats. Supporters are shielded from the elements by glazed screen ends which also have the benefit of allowing natural light into the stand. One drawback to the stand is that it has a line of supporting columns along its front which may impede your view of the pitch. A graceful new roof extension covers the paddock area either side of the players tunnel-this was need after a severe storm in 2007 caused damage to the old roof.
One noticeable aspect of how Oriel Park looks today is the large number of seats relative to its overall capacity. The club have been faced with the challenge of installing the minimal 3,000 seats to meet UEFA requirements for playing European games. This has lead to the L-shaped shallow open terrace steps between the home turnstiles and the Town End having 9-10 rows of grey plastic seats fitted, whilst at the other end between the away turnstiles and the Carrickmacross End the deep rectangular area of terracing has had the same treatment with the lowest 9-10 terrace steps receiving seating. Interestingly however the top half of the terrace directly beneath one of Oriel Park's iconic floodlight pylons has been retained as a terrace with its few remaining crush barriers still in place, presumably to allow away supporters the choice to sit or stand and watch a game.
Away fans enter the ground on their own turnstiles to the right of the Main Stand and are allocated two separate areas on this side of the ground. The first is the side wing of the Main Stand up against the screen end. The seating here offers an excellent elevated view of the pitch though you may find if you are in the rear rows the side screens block your view of the right hand goal. The second area is immediately below the floodlight at the Carrickmacross end of the ground. Here you will find a deep rectangular shaped area of open terracing which has had a front section converted to seating. As far as we are aware the rear section of terrace, which has a couple of crush barriers, is still accessible on matchdays.
Although there is the Lilywhites Supporters Bar inside the Main Stand this is normally only open to home fans. Michael Shine adds; 'The nearest pub is Kennedys Bar, which is less than five minutes walk away from the ground opposite the train station'. Otherwise there are plenty of pubs to be found in the town centre, which is only a ten minute walk.
From the South
Follow the M1 North of Drogheda, exit at the N52 Roundabout turning left towards Ardee. Then take
the next right, the L3168 towards Rath. The road passes under the M1 at the village of Killaly. At the junction in Rath turn right onto the R171 and follow into the town centre of Dundalk. You will see the floodlights of Oriel Park on the left just as you cross over the railway line. At the big roundabout next to the Police Station take the first turn onto the R178 Carrickmacross Road. You will then pass back over the railway line with the entrance to the railway station on the right. The entrance to Oriel Park is past two petrol stations on the left hand side.
From the West
Follow the N52 from Ardee. Just before you reach the M1 Roundabout turn left onto the L3168 towards Rath. The road passes under the M1 at the village of Killaly. At the junction in Rath turn right onto the R171 and follow into the town centre of Dundalk. You will see the floodlights of Oriel Park on the left
just as you cross over the railway line. Then 'As South' above.
From the North
Follow the M1 South of Newry, exit at the N52 Roundabout turning right towards Ardee. Then take
the next right, the L3168 towards Rath. The road passes under the M1 at the village of Killaly. At the junction in Rath turn right onto the R171 and follow into the town centre of Dundalk. You will see the floodlights of Oriel Park on the left just as you cross over the railway line. Then 'As South' above.
There is a small car park under the tree opposite the Main Stand, however should this be full you should be able to park in Carrickmacross Road or the car park at Dundalk Railway Station, which costs €2.
There is a good train service from Dublin Connolly to Dundalk in the morning and afternoon as it is at the northernmost point of the Dublin commuter belt. The commuter train service runs from Bray to the South of Dublin through to Dublin Connolly and up the east coast to Drogheda, terminating at Dundalk.Clarke Station is also served by the long distance Dublin Connolly to Belfast Central Enterprise Service. If you are travelling from Dublin you will see the floodlights on the left hand side as you approach Dundalk. Once you have arrived at Dundalk Clarke Station it will take you around 5-10 minutes to walk to Oriel Park.
At the top of the station approach road turn right, heading away from the town centre. The entrance to Oriel Park is on the left hand side, with the ticket office, club shop and turnstiles for all parts of the ground to the rear of the Main Stand.
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Other areas of the ground
Under 13's €5
Official Programme €3
Drogheda United are the closest league Club, but a rivalry also exists with Shamrock Rovers.
17,000 v Glasgow Celtic European Cup, 2nd Round 2nd Leg, 7 November 1979.
2015: 3,157 (Premier Division)
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Special thanks to Owen Pavey for providing the information and photos of Oriel Park Dundalk.
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