Swift Roller Mower at Austin Stack Park
The MAJOR Rigid Deck Swift Roller Mower impresses Kerry GAA teams and supporters with fantastic finish worthy of Premier League at Austin Stack Park, one of the oldest sports grounds in Ireland.
Austin Stack Park in Tralee, Co Kerry is one of the oldest sports grounds in Ireland. It has a significant place in Irish athletic history having hosted one of the first GAA meetings in 1885 right after the Gaelic Athletic Association was formed in 1884. Today, the 12,000-seat stadium holds football league games and both league and championship hurling matches, as well as county championship football and hurling finals.
“There is huge interest in GAA here – we have quite a lot of seriously good football and hurling teams in the county,” begins Tony O’Keeffe, Chairman of the Austin Stack Park Committee and former secretary of the Kerry County Board for 18 years. “I’ve great interest in the park. The pitch here is always an attraction so it’s our job to have this pitch in very good condition and increase the attractiveness of the park.”
Groundsman Ger O’Mahoney is responsible for the overall health and appearance of the pitch. “We mow the pitch twice a week in the summer time and once a week in the winter,” he begins. “We keep it nice and short in the summer, especially for hurling we have to have it clipped quite short. In winter time we keep it longer to give the ground some protection.”
“We had a small sit on mower which collected the grass but we had problems with the chutes getting blocked in damp weather, which can be very often in this part of the world,” remarks Mr. O’Mahoney.
The committee looked for a suitable replacement and were impressed with the MAJOR Swift rollermower (MJ71-190). The 1.9m model Swift reliably delivers an impeccable finish in a variety of grass conditions while being low maintenance and easy to operate.
The fact that a vintage Massey Ferguson 135 tractor purchased in 1969 by Mr O’Keeffe’s father could power the mower was meaningful.
The gearbox drive-line of the rotor-blade system allows it to handle wet and dry conditions easily. The height can be easily adjusted from 10-130mm for year-round mowing. “We can cut in all types of weather without any effect on the field. It’s a mulching mower – the grass can be left on the field,” comments Mr. O’Mahoney.
The rigid deck Swift delivers a brilliant finish to the pride of players and spectators. The 60mm blade overlap with high blade tip speeds consistently delivers a professional, striped finish with no windrows. “It gives a fantastic look with the lovely stripes on our ground. The players and spectators have complimented on how it’s looking. It reminds them of pitches in the Premier League they see on television,” notes Mr. O’Mahoney.
The roller on the mower is an important aspect: It levels the little divots so the playing surface is always very smooth. “Visiting teams will come in advance and look at the pitch, particularly from Dublin,” adds Mr. O’Keeffe. “And they’ve been very pleased with the system.”
He knows a thing or two about the standard of playing pitches: Tony O’Keeffe had a distinguished playing career during an era when Kerry ruled the world of football in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1973, he played on the Austin Stacks team that brought home the county championship for the first time since 1936.
Low maintenance and easy operability stand out in the MAJOR Swift roller mower. “Very easy to operate and needs very little maintenance,” says Mr. O’Mahoney. “Only 6-8 grease points once a month, and believe it or not I’ve only edged the blades once in the 12 months. The cleaning of the mower is quite simple; you can put a water connection on it and put the mower running with the result that it will clean the underside of it. The blades moving around will generate the water splash off the sides.”
As with all MAJOR grounds care products, the Swift rollermower benefits from galvanisation to increase durability and lifespan. “One good thing about the mower is that fact it is galvanised,” continues Mr. O’Mahoney. “Obviously it’s going to prevent the body of the mower from rusting, which in this climate here and in this area where we get a lot of salt in the air it’s invaluable to us.”
“I’m delighted that it’s an Irish-made mower. It is helping the economy in one sense, and the other way is MAJOR have taken Irish conditions into consideration in the design, which is excellent for our pitch here,” concludes Mr. O’Mahoney.