Tom O’Brien, res­i­dent engi­neer

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - PÁIRC UÍ CHAOIMH SPECIAL -

Iwas handed the keys of the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh by the county board on March 20 2015, which was the first day that the works started on site. I’ll be hand­ing the keys of the new sta­dium back to the county board this week, so I’ll have been on site nearly two and a half years.

I’m res­i­dent engi­neer for Malachy Walsh and Part­ners, the de­sign con­sul­tants and project man­agers on the project. My role was to bring the de­sign of the new sta­dium from the de­sign of­fice to the con­struc­tion site and to mon­i­tor the works and make sure the works were car­ried out as per de­sign, spec­i­fi­ca­tions and reg­u­la­tions.

The main con­tract then started, with Sisk’s, on December 7 2015. They took over the Project Su­per­vi­sor Con­struc­tion Stage (PSCS) role and that con­tin­ues to the han­dover for the All-Ireland hurl­ing qual­i­fiers.

My role as the res­i­dent engi­neer in­cluded pre-pour and post pour checks which in­cluded check­ing the cor­rect re­in­force­ment had been placed in the con­crete pour, spac­ing of re-bar, clean­li­ness of the shut­ters and lev­els of the pours.

Hickey Form­work from Araglin car­ried out all the in­situ con­crete. There were ap­prox­i­mately 22,000 cu­bic me­tres of con­crete poured on the project. The ground­work con­trac­tor was Tony Kir­wan — in­stalling all the foul, storm pipework, elec­tri­cal duct­ing and so on.

The new South Stand which was the old cov­ered stand is a three tier five floor stand.

There are 5,300 seats in the first and third tiers and 2,200 seats on the sec­ond tier which is the pre­mium level. The ground floor is play­ers, ad­min staff and stew­ards only. There are four dress­ing rooms, two warm-up rooms, four man­age­ment rooms, two ref­er­ees rooms, a state of the art gym, physio rooms, first aid rooms.

Level one and three are gen­eral pub­lic ad­mis­sions and level two is pre­mium. There are a num­ber of li­censed bars, hot and cold food kiosks, shops on all floors. There are con­fer­enc­ing fa­cil­i­ties and meet­ing rooms on the sec­ond level along with the tv stu­dio and event con­trol room.

The North Stand, the old un­cov­ered stand, is an 8,000 seater stand. Again here there are a num­ber of li­censed bars, hot and cold food kiosks, shops. The only part of the old sta­dium that is stand­ing to­day are 44 con-

crete legs of the ter­race (22 each end). The vom­i­to­ri­ums on the ter­races are now half way up the ter­race as op­posed to the old sta­dium where they were at the bot­tom of the ter­race. There are seven stairs to ac­cess the mez­za­nine floors that lead you out on to ten vom­i­to­ri­ums for ac­cess to the ter­races.

Donal Kelly of Bal­ly­desmond built the 4G pitch on the south­ern side of the South Stand, while Steven O’Brien and Steven Cal­nan sup­plied all the gear for the toi­lets — soap dis­pensers, pa­per towel dis­pensers and so on. Declan Hur­ley did the struc­tural steel­work for the ter­races. As far as we could we em­ployed lo­cal busi­nesses.

The hours were eight in the morn­ing to seven in the evening, lads would start ar­riv­ing on site at half seven, twenty to eight, to start then at eight. There have been times dur­ing the project when we’ve had to go be­yond those hours — get­ting ready for a pour, if it was weath­erde­pen­dent on the fol­low­ing day then we’d have to work on. The max­i­mum per­son­nel we have had on site in a sin­gle day was 555.

The res­i­dents’ com­mit­tee in the area have been very help­ful to us, the com­mit­tee chair­man, Paddy Mul­ley in par­tic­u­lar.

There’s been a lot of con­struc­tion traf­fic, ob­vi­ously — there’s been quar­ter of a mil­lion tons of spoil taken from the site. That’s just spoil, re­mem­ber - add in con­struc­tion traf­fic, con­crete trucks, con­struc­tion plant, ma­chin­ery hire, pedes­tri­ans, work­ers, and there have been over one mil­lion cases of ve­hi­cles ac­cess­ing and leav­ing the site.

We’ve had a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the neigh­bours, though, we‘ve had very few com­plaints, and we’ll be hand­ing the build­ing back to the county board then hope­fully that good re­la­tion­ship will con­tinue into the fu­ture. Af­ter two and a half years we’re hand­ing back a good prod­uct for the people of Cork, one that hope­fully they’ll be proud of.

I’m very proud of the fin­ish to the sta­dium. We’ve poured a lot of con­crete in situ, and the fin­ish of that con­crete is ex­cel­lent.

A lot of the pre­cast con­crete came from Banagher, and you’d al­ways have a better fin­ish on pre­cast, but in the new Páirc you can’t dis­tin­guish be­tween the two.

The main con­tact started on December 7 2015, and that was a bad win­ter. It started rain­ing in the sec­ond week of Novem­ber and con­tin­ued to St Pa­trick’s Day 2016.

We were dig­ging the foun­da­tions, and the dig level for the foun­da­tion of the south stand lifts was four me­tres un­der­ground, but from then on, for the last 15-16 months we can’t com­plain about the weather, it’s been very good.

When we lifted the roof of the South Stand, that was done in two sec­tions.

There are 20 trusses in the roof which were made up in pairs on the ground out­side the South Stand, each pair of trusses weigh­ing 64 tons. We had two separate lifts – 10 trusses be­fore Christ­mas 2016 and 10 trusses Fe­bru­ary 2017.

Out of those 10 lifts, we only had one day we couldn’t do the lift be­cause of wind. Apart from the wet weather at the start and that day of wind, the weather’s been very good.

Miss­ing the ini­tial date... we have a pro­gramme we work to and it was a tight one. It was un­for­tu­nate that day came, just two weeks, three weeks too soon.

If the weather had been good to us early on we’d prob­a­bly have made it, but at the end of the day it’s pa­trons’ safety is paramount.

But when people come into the sta­dium I think they’ll get the wow fac­tor. They’ll see the enor­mity of the job, and the fact that one or two weeks won’t make that much of a dif­fer­ence.

It’s been a job you’d learn a lot from in terms of en­gi­neer­ing, it was ex­cel­lent in terms of ex­pe­ri­ence — you have ma­jor steel­work en­gi­neer­ing, a 40-me­tre can­tilever on the south stand roof, which it­self is 50 me­tres long.

See­ing that work alone... that’s an­chored from the back and sup­ported on the SF col­umns, big con­crete work, big lift shafts, se­ri­ous con­crete pours, se­ri­ous floor pours.

And there’s a good sat­is­fac­tion in deal­ing with the people in the area. We’ve taken down the hoard­ing and people can see the pitch and the ground floor of the south stand — people are stop­ping work­ers and say­ing ‘con­grats, it’s a super job’.

I’m from Bal­ly­de­hob in west Cork — my dad has The Ir­ish Whip pub there, home to Danno Ma­honey, the ex world wrestling cham­pion — and I’ve been in­volved with Gabriel Rangers all my life. We’d have gone to Páirc Uí Chaoimh for years fol­low­ing Cork, we’d know it well.

Go­ing into it all along, of course it was run-down and well over­due the re­vamp. That’s why I’ve re­ferred to the fin­ish, which is so high­qual­ity.

The North Stand has a big con­course un­der­neath, for in­stance, com­pared to the old tun­nel where you’d have thou­sands of people in to­gether af­ter a game.

Now you have four big exit gates and you’ll be able to get the crowd — 45,000 pa­trons — out in six and a half min­utes.

Be­ing a GAA man and work­ing on the project — it’s been a dream job, re­ally.

Pic­ture: Ed­die O’Hare

THE EARLY DAYS: Tom O’Brien, be­low, has been the res­i­dent engi­neer dur­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh. He says the work has been com­pleted with­out un­duly up­set­ting the lo­cal res­i­dents. Be­low: Tom O’Brien

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