Capacity: 6,000 (All Seated)
Address: Richmond Road, Dublin 3
Telephone: (+353) 1 837 5536
Pitch Size: 110 x 75 yards
Pitch Type: Grass
Club Nickname: Shels
Year Ground Opened: 1953
Undersoil Heating: No
Home Kit: Red and White
Without wishing to sound to cliché a visit to Tolka Park is a unique experience but the ground itself faces an uncertain future, with proposals to groundshare a new stadium to be built at Bohemians FC (see below). Located in the Drumcondra District in the North suburbs of Dublin, not far from Croke Park GAA Stadium the ground finds itself hemmed in by the River Tolka and the residential streets of Richmond Road and Grace Park Road. Approaching the ground from the bustling shopping street of Drumcondra Road Lower the stadium emerges from behind a row of Victorian terrace houses and low level flats to the right side of Richmond Road. Here, opposite the playing field and Drumcondra FC changing room hut we find the Main Stand, with its whitewashed stone walls and red barrel roof boldly displaying Shelbourne's club colours.
Tolka Park itself is owned by Dublin City Council and Shelbourne are just one of seven football clubs to use the ground since its opening in 1953. Shelbourne moved to the ground in 1989 to take up a long term lease previously held by Home Farm FC. Stepping through the turnstiles to the right of the stand we emerge on the West side, known as the Drumcondra End. This end of the ground has always been a narrow wedge of land shaped by both the post-war housing on Richmond Road and a bend in the River Tolka. To the credit of Shelbourne FC a new stand was constructed soon after the club became tenants, and this box shaped cantilever roofed stand makes the most of the land available, with a single deck of red seats elevated above the ground floor players dressing rooms. Every seat offers an unobstructed view of the pitch, and despite being only half the width of the pitch it is a cauldron of noise on matchdays as it houses Shelbourne's most vocal supporters. The stand also has executive boxes and a stadium control room at the top of the seating deck.
Looking to the left from the Drumcondra End the Main Stand runs almost the full length of the pitch and has a deck of modern red plastic seats raised above a narrow paddock, with a pair of perspex dug outs on the pitch centre line somehow squeezed in along the touchline. There are a number of columns along the front of the stand which may impede your view of the pitch however with the low roof you will always stay dry in the rain and the slightly claustrophobic nature of this side of the ground means you always feel like you could reach out and touch the players from the bottom row of seats. Looking to the right from the Drumcondra End the Riverside Stand is also shaped by the curving path of the River Tolka, as can be seen from the tapering open ends of blue and yellow plastic seats. The stand, formerly a steep pitch length terrace is built on a concrete base raised above the riverbank, with the whitewashed rear boundary wall being a good few metres above the river level. The stand as it looks today still has a central covered section though this has been altered since Shelbourne's tenancy with the installation of a new television gantry. The roof also has five supporting columns which, along with the pitch side floodlight pylons, may impede your view of the game. The colourful seats on this side are bolted to the concrete steps with around 21 rows beneath the roof, extending to 24 rows on the flanking open blocks before tapering down to both corners. The current stadium capacity is stated as 9,680 all seated however this has been restricted to 6,000 for modern Health and Safety requirements.
Looking across the pitch to the far side the Ballybough End has an unusual modern electronic scoreboard in front of the toilet block and old clubhouse building, with a large shallow open seating deck leading up to the corner of the Riverside Stand. The seating on this side has suffered more than most in recent years so it’s no surprise this side of the ground has now been closed, drastically reducing the seating capacity. Looking at the ground as a whole, Tolka Park is one of the most colourful and charismatic stadiums in the Irish Republic, with its stands so close to the pitch it ranks amongst the best places to watch football in the country.
In 2018 Dublin City Council announced their intention to build a new municipal stadium on the Dalymount Park site, the home of Bohemians FC. As part of this move, it has been agreed that Shelbourne FC will vacate their Tolka Park home and groundshare the new Dalymount Park Stadium with Bohemians. The new 6,000 capacity stadium is part of a wider regeneration plan for the area and follows on from the sale of Dalymount Park by Bohemians FC to Dublin City Council in 2015. Since then the scheme has trundled on with only recently the Council approving further funds for additional detailed planning. If the scheme does go ahead then it is expected that the construction will take two years to complete. Whilst construction takes place Bohemians will groundshare Tolka Park with Shelbourne for two seasons. Below is a video showing the proposed designs for the new stadium, which does look quite smart. Although it will be a shame to see the loss of two historic character grounds, which it will replace.
The New Dalymount Park
The above video was produced by Dublin City Council
and made publicly available via YouTube.
As far as we are aware for local derbies with Shamrock Rovers, Bohemian and St Patricks Athletic away fans are allocated the Riverside Stand which is accessed from the Richmond Road turnstiles to the right of the Main Stand. Most fans congregate under the covered central section of the stand,and though there are a couple of columns and the pitch side floodlight pylons which may impede the view of the pitch the stand roof is low enough to keep you dry on a rainy day as well as allowing fans to get a good atmosphere going. For all other league fixtures there is no segregation so away fans can mix in with home fans for a bit of light hearted banter.
As Tolka Park sits between the River Tolka and residential housing there is nothing in the immediate surroundings, however, walk 5 minutes to the West along Richmond Road and then onto the Drumcondra Road (with the Main Stand behind you turn left and then left at the traffic lights ) and you will find a good selection of pubs, including Kennedy's and Fagan's. There are also plenty of eating places and convenience stores around this area and Drumcondra Railway Station.
From the North
Follow the M1 Southbound past Dublin Airport, the road then becomes the N1 at Santry. Keep following the N1 towards Dublin City Centre. You will see the entrance gates to Tolka Park on the right hand side.
From the West
Follow the N4 from Lucan towards the western suburbs of Dublin. At the M50 Junction 7 join the motorway and head north, exiting at Junction 6. Turn right and head towards Dublin on the N3 Navan Road. You will see Phoenix Park on the right hand side then as the road kinks round to the left you will then see the spire of St Peters Church on the right hand side with the floodlights of Bohemian's Dalymount Park on the left. Continue over the next crossroads then at the following crossroads turn left onto the N1 Drumcondra Road Lower, passing beneath the railway bridge of Drumcondra Station. Turn right onto Richmond Road. Tolka Park is on the right hand side with turnstiles for all parts of the ground at the rear of the barrel roofed old Main Stand.
From the South
Follow the N11 from Bray into the South suburbs of Dublin. Once past Donnybrook Rugby Ground, you may find it quickest to use Dublin's Outer Orbital Route rather than continue towards the busy Saint Stephens Green, Dublin Castle, River Liffey and City Centre Shopping area route. To do this turn left at Junction 54 onto Grand Parade which runs alongside the canal. Continue on the road to Junction 64 at Phoenix Park then turn left at Junction 65 onto Infirmary Road. Follow the North Circular Road to the right and head away from Pheonix Park. Once you have reached Junction 67 turn left into Old Cabra Road, then at the crossroads turn right into the N3 Cabra Road. You will then see the floodlights of Bohemian's Dalymount Park on the left. Continue over the next crossroads then at the following crossroads turn left onto the N1 Drumcondra Road Lower, passing beneath the railway bridge of Drumcondra Station. Turn right onto Richmond Road. Tolka Park is on the right hand side with turnstiles for all parts of the ground at the rear of the barrel roofed old Main Stand.
There is no parking for visiting supporters at the ground itself, but there is plenty of street parking available in the surrounding area. However, the club requests supporters not to park in Grace Park Gardens or Grace Park Avenue.
The nearest station is Drumcondra which is situated just under a mile from the ground. It is served by trains from Dublin Connolly which a three minute train ride away. Dublin Connolly can be reached by tram via the red line.
As you come out of Drumcondra station turn left and walk along this road for around half a mile. Cross over to the other side of the road. After crossing the Tolka River turn right into Richmond Road and the ground is down on the right.
A number of buses travel along Drumcondra Road from Dublin City Centre close to Tolka Park. From O'Connell Street, you can catch either number 1, 11, 13, 16 or 44. After crossing at the bridge over the River Tolka and going through a set of traffic lights (with Millmount House on the left and Insomnia on the right), get off at the next stop. Then walk back to the traffic lights, cross the road and turn left at Insomnia into Richmond Road. The entrance to the ground is down on the right.
Official Programme €3
League Of Ireland Premier League Fixtures (takes you to the SSE Airtricity League Website).
Although Dublin and Tallaght are 6 miles apart Shelbourne has an historical rivalry with Shamrock Rovers, since both clubs were originally formed in the neighbouring IrishTown and Ringend area's close to Dublin Harbour. Geographically speaking Drumcondra and Home Farm are the nearest football clubs but as they are lower down the league structure they have more of a friendly rivalry with Shelbourne.
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If there is anything that needs to be updated or if you have something to add to the Guide to Tolka Park Shelbourne then please email me at: [email protected].
Special thanks to Owen Pavey for providing the photos of Tolka Park Shelbourne and also for most of the information on this page.
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