Back in play again as £400k pitch finished

Principal Hugh McCarthy, second from left, wih guests at the official hand-over. INPT25-020
Principal Hugh McCarthy, second from left, wih guests at the official hand-over. INPT25-020

The official hand-over of the long awaited £400,000 sports pitch at Killicomaine Junior High School has taken place.

The pitch was meant to have been operational by autumn last year but was delayed after an inspection by a team of experts found that it did not satisfy the standards of the Federation of International Hockey (FIH).

The surface had to be removed and re-layed.

Speaking this week, principal Hugh McCarthy said the international accredited standard hockey pitch with Olympic style goals, plus four 2G resurfaced tennis courts, “are a significant addition to the school’s already impressive grounds and sports facilities”.

Glenda Hall, the Education Authority’s head of architectural services, said she was delighted on behalf of the authority to take possession of the facility whilst Paul Hanna of Mascott Construction, the main contractor, said he was pleased to hand over.

Mr McCarthy praised all parties for bringing the work to completion. “The facilities will bring a whole new aspect to sport at Killicomaine for lots of children and we anticipate being able to substantially add to the school’s already impressive list of Ulster and Ireland male and female hockey players,” he said.

A former Ulster player, Mr McCarthy added that he hopes the tennis courts will help to promote tennis in the area and thanked Portadown Tennis Club for allowing the school to use their courts for NI Junior Cup matches.

An official opening is expected in September.

The Education Authority (EA) sought an independent specialist to test the pitch and prepare an assessment report against the original contract specification following a pitch inspection last December.

When the inspection was ordered, the school’s board of governors David Thompson said, “In my view, the authority has acted correctly. In the meantime, our hockey teams have had to put up with our present 25-year-old facility which, in the rain, is tantamount to a flooded paddy field.”