The most recent images of Antrim's once hallowed Casement Park are bloody depressing 5 years ago

The most recent images of Antrim's once hallowed Casement Park are bloody depressing

This is a ground where the greats played.

This is a ground that holds so many historic memories, where titans clashed, where All-Ireland winners embarked on their journeys.

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Blood was spilled, magic was weaved and every time Casement Park opened its gates for another Sunday of passion-filled rivalry, you could nearly hear the echo of the warriors that did battle there down through the years.

Now, it is derelict.

Now, it is a wasteland. Now it is downright heartbreaking to look at.

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Urbex: Forgotten Ulster snapped images on Friday of Casement Park as it looks today.

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The same ground that has played host to some of the finest footballers and hurlers in the country, some of the most monumental games, is now rundown and abandoned.

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The exciting redevelopment of the stadium now seems a distant memory. The work was put on hold when planning permission was contested and subsequently deemed illegal and the home of Antrim GAA was evacuated.

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Photos by Forgotten Ulster.

Casement Park used to be hailed by inter-county players for having the best playing surface in Ireland. It's grass was like a carpet, it's pitch was endless and the way the stand gently steeped away from the sideline provided a vibrant atmosphere.

Most importantly though, Casement Park was a pillar.

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It stood proud on the Andersonstown Road and provided an aspiration for the Gaels of Belfast. It provided the first dream that, one day, anyone could play there if they wanted it enough.

Now, in all the apathy surrounding Antrim, you feel that the county has no way back until the west Belfast venue is restored to the might of what it once was. They need that centre of the universe to be the best stadium in Ulster and they need it right at the heart of everything they do. They need Casement Park to work towards, to enjoy, to be proud of.

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A new planning application is due to be submitted before the end of the year and the GAA hopes that work can begin on Casement Park in 2017.

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That can't come quick enough.

Because, at the moment, its degeneration is almost a symbol for the mood in the county - at least how it seems from the outside.

Until it is restored to its former glory, there's no focal point for the young Antrim footballers and hurlers. At the moment, there's no dream. And that can't go on. We can't allow it.

"The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate. It's the sand of the Colosseum."

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