Hidden Heroes - Team PGS

Our Croke Park Hidden Heroes are the members of the PGS Maintenance team: Dan, Paula, Leonard, Ovidiu and Dave, who work tirelessly to ensure Croke Park is always in top condition, inside and out...

Croke Park is very much a family affair for PGS. Paula Martinas has been with the stadium for 21 years and was joined by her husband Leonard in 2004. Leonard’s brother Ovidiu arrived to Croke Park three years later along with Dan, whose wife also works in the stadium.

Team leader Dave has been in Croke Park for eleven years but had his first experience working in the stadium with his father when he was 18. Dave’s father, William Donoghue was with Croke Park for28 years and retired five years ago.

We sat down with Dave, a core member of the team responsible for achieving Croke Park’s impressive zero percent waste-to-landfill record, and asked him what the stadium’s sustainable agenda means to him.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since first working in the stadium as an eighteen-year-old?

Everything! Everything changed with the redevelopment of the stadium, not just the stadium itself but everything from pitch management to stadium management. It used to be that the first match was in March, the last match in September and nothing in between, with the stadium empty for half the year. Now the stadium is in use every day.

Why do you think sustainability is important for Croke Park?

Croke Park is an iconic stadium and there’s a huge opportunity in that to do great things. With the Croke Park sustainability projects, we’re starting something that will leave a really positive legacy when we’re all gone.

If you had an unlimited budget for Croke Park, what would you spend it on?

On constantly improving the environmental and recycling side to stadium operations. But as well on that, I’d invest in sustainability and environmental education, especially for youth groups and clubs outside of the stadium and in the wider GAA community. Croke Park has huge potential to be a leader in sustainability for the GAA as a whole and for young people across the country.

What are the challenges that you see for the stadium’s green agenda?

The biggest challenges are to communicate the importance of the things the stadium is trying to do, like the importance of recycling and of being aware of energy efficiency, and to get buy in – getting people to think green!

Having been in the stadium so long, does Croke Park ever surprise you?

Always. You’re always coming across cubbyholes you never knew existed and from week to week you never know what will happen. Royal visits, concerts, popes – every year is different and always seems to get better. Croke Park is always improving and always setting itself new challenges.