One of Ireland’s most hallowed sports grounds has received a proud new name as two of the country’s most successful teams have united to herald an exciting new rugby era.
Independent News & Media (INM) and Munster Rugby have extended their successful sponsorship agreement with Cork’s historic Musgrave Park now to be renamed Irish Independent Park.
The branding is one of the key elements of an exciting 10 year partnership agreement between Munster Rugby and INM.
The ground first opened in 1940 and has been the focus of major redevelopment over the past decade.
It ranks as one of the most famous rugby grounds in the country and witnessed the first ever triumph by an Irish provincial side over international tourists when Australia were beaten in 1967.
In 1973 it also saw the Reds earn a famous draw against the touring All Blacks.
In 1992, the ground witnessed one of Munster's finest achievements when Australia, the reigning world champions, were also defeated.
A key element of the Munster Rugby/INM partnership will be assistance with ongoing ground redevelopment.
“Munster Rugby is delighted that INM have committed to such a significant, long term partnership,” Munster Rugby chief executive, Garrett Fitzgerald said.
“The naming of Irish Independent Park allows Munster Rugby to progress on our redevelopment of the grounds and commit to our rugby future here. Cork is a vital element of Munster Rugby’s success and we are happy that Irish Independent Park will be central to rugby development in the region.”
INM chairman, Leslie Buckley, said it was a very proud day for both organisations.
“This is hallowed ground for Munster rugby and particularly for Cork supporters. The Irish Independent has a strong affinity with Munster rugby which is underpinned by our weekly rugby pull out exclusively for our Munster readers. We now look forward to positively and successfully building upon that relationship.”
Mr Buckley said the partnership is particularly special for him as he lives only a stone's throw from the famous ground.
INM chief executive, Vincent Crowley, said the agreement is also great news for rugby development at youth level.
"Irish Independent Park is a further demonstration of our continued support in helping to encourage and build the game of rugby in schools, clubs and at provincial level," Mr Crowley said.
"We look forward to seeing some fantastic games in this superb stadium in the heart of Cork city and reporting on them in the Irish Independent and on independent.ie,” he added.
Newstalk presenter and rugby pundit, George Hook, hailed the partnership as great news for rugby in Cork and Munster.
"This is a very, very special ground. I first attended matches here back in the 1950s and this isn't just a big game ground - you get schools rugby here and of course club rugby with Sunday's Well and Dolphin."
"It is also steeped in history with Munster having beaten the Wallabies here and of course that famous 1973 draw with the All-Blacks when Munster may have been bloodied but were totally unbowed."
Former Ireland star and Irish Independent columnist, Tony Ward, said the Cork ground also holds very special memories for him.
"I won my first big victory with Garryowen here back in the early 1970s and of course played the Wallabies twice here," he said.
"This is a very special place and the wonderful element of this partnership between Munster Rugby and INM is that further ground development can take place."
The facility was first named in 1940 for the long-serving Irish rugby official, Jimmy Musgrave.
Over eight decades it has been graced by Munster’s greatest players including Tony Ward, Donal Lenihan, Ronan O’Gara, Moss Keane, Mick Galwey, Anthony Foley and Peter Clohessy.
The ground is also home to Dolphin and Sunday's Well.
Proving that sport knows few code boundaries, the facility also proudly hosted a UEFA Cup football match between Cork City and Bayern Munich in 1991.
On June 21, Irish Independent Park will host a high-profile concert by the multi-award winning classical group, Il Divo.