In spite of the Amateur Football League complex opening at Coolock Lane most football in Dublin relies on local authority pitches.
In 1954 the Amateur Football League (AFL) was founded in Dublin to provide football for people who are amateurs, playing in a competitive spirit. Beginning with 12 teams the AFL has grown to over 300 teams, with a registered membership of approximately 5,000 players.
Recognising the need to consolidate this growth, the Honorary Officers of the AFL embarked on a project to become the first association or league in the Republic of Ireland to have its own sports complex with administration facilities.
The result is the Amateur Football League complex at Coolock Lane in Dublin, the first made for measure centre in Ireland for junior footballers. The complex is officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Jim Tunney, who performs the ribbon cutting ceremony at the building's £260,000 sports hall and dressing room.
The £750,000 project has received a government grant of £105,000 and a promise of £25,000 funding from Dublin Corporation. The remainder of the funds will be raised by the 320 teams in the AFL.
In spite of the new complex, most football is played on local authority pitches,
And there’s the conflict, teams complain that pitches are closed unnecessarily by the Corporation and the County Council in the interests of preserving the turf.
Amateur League secretary Noel Kennelly debates this issue with senior parks superintendent at Dublin Corporation Jim Shannon and Dublin County Council’s senior parks superintendent Michael Lynch.
Noel Kennelly believes matches are called off by the local authorities too frequently and with very little notice.
So somewhere along the way we have to come to a better arrangement where we can play because if we deprive the people of play they can turn to either drink, crime of vandalism and we don't want that.
Jim Shannon suggests the AFL could play matches more frequently during the summer months, giving the grounds the chance to recuperate during the winter.
According to Michael Lynch, Dublin County Council’s pitches are for wide ranges of users throughout the entire year. With this in mind, they must be kept in good condition at all times. Unlike the case of the pitch at Tolka Park,
We cannot afford to have our pitches completely bald by the end of the season and have them closed completely for the summer months because they’re needed for schoolboy leagues, for athletic purposes, for training, for picnicking, right throughout the summer months.
One solution to the problem according to Jim Shannon is the provision of more indoor recreational space and more all-weather floodlit space for evening use.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 30 September 1985. The reporter is Colm Connolly.