BY IAN CALLENDER
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CIVIL SERVICE NORTH CC
DIRECTIONS: Located within the grounds of Stormont Castle (Tel 02890 520404). The ground is only three miles from Belfast City Airport. A seven-minute taxi journey away. Car parking: Available, by prior arrangement with the Ireland media manager (Craig Easdown +353 858 047696).
FACILITIES: Temporary press accommodation is erected for internationals with meals provided and tea and coffee available. It also hosts the post-match press conferences at the lower level. Depending on which way the wind is blowing it can be colder than normal.
ACCOMMODATION: The Stormont Hotel (4-star) is across the road from the ground, otherwise there is plenty of accommodation in Belfast City Centre (four miles away). Out of town there is also La Mon Hotel (five miles away) which the Ireland team uses.
LEISURE: Belfast City Centre has been revitalised with many restaurants and the famous Crown Bar (opposite the Europa Hotel). Even closer there is plenty of good eating and drinking on the Upper Newtownards Road, the main road into the city centre. Regular bus services stop outside the ground. The Titanic Quarter in Belfast, which offers the Titanic experience, is worth a visit and also includes historic maritime landmarks, film studios and entertainment.
DIRECTIONS: The ground is just five miles from Dublin airport and 100 miles south of Belfast. From Belfast, leave the M1 at Junction 4 and follow signs to Malahide. The ground is on the right just before you reach the village. Car Parking: Media car parking is very restricted (sometimes non-existent) and Malahide Castle Car Park is the best bet.
FACILITIES: For the moment it is only temporary press accommodation but, much like Stormont, perfectly adequate for internationals with all expected facilities, including improved wifi and meals and tea and coffee served in the press area.
ACCOMMODATION: The Grand Hotel is just five minutes walk from the ground, with the Portmarnock Hotel and Links a further two miles away along the coast. There is also a vast choice of bed and breakfasts in Malahide. For those looking for a good pub, head for Gibneys, halfway between the Grand and the ground. Best recommendation is that it is popular with the locals and also serves excellent grub. For those who like Chinese food there is no fewer than four in Malahide village but there are nearly as many eating houses as b&bs.
LEISURE: Malahide Castle is an obvious attraction while a walk into Portmarnock along the coast is refreshing although must be shared with power-walkers. Golf available at the world famous Portmarnock links. The Dart takes you into Dublin Connolly station in less than half an hour and that is another day used up!
DIRECTIONS: Castle Avenue, Dublin. The ground is just six miles from Dublin airport. Taxi the direct route but for public transport, take the non-stop bus into Dublin City and the Dart service to Killester Station from where it is a short walk. Car Parking: Only street car parking available at major matches.
FACILITIES: Temporary accommodation on a low level. Food is served in a portakabin near the press area but wifi can be temperamental. Best to phone ahead - 00 35318 332621.
ACCOMMODATION: Nearest hotel is Clontarf Castle Hotel (Tel 00 35318 332321), virtually adjacent to the ground. Other nearby hotels are Bram Stoker Hotel & Bar and the Ferry View while Aisling House bed and breakfast is less than a mile away. Some good eating houses on the front including the Pigeon House. There is a good bar at the ground.
LEISURE: Dublin is your one-stop entertainment city with the Abbey and Gaiety Theatre in the city centre always popular attractions. The Book of Kells is in Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse, St James Gate, is a must-see with daily tours seven days a week.
DIRECTIONS: Ireland’s newest accredited international venue (so far staged only T20 games) is five miles outside Londonderry in Magheramason on the main Derry-Strabane road. The nearest airport is City of Derry (13 miles) but has only flights from London Stansted, Glasgow and Liverpool. Otherwise Belfast International is the nearest (60 miles). From there take the A6 to Londonderry and then the A5 to Strabane. Bready CC is signposted on the main road as you go through Magheramason. Car parking: In the ground, usually on the (top) second pitch.
FACILITIES: As with every other international ground in Ireland, it is temporary accommodation for the press. At the first two T20s, it was tented with engineers on standby for any internet problems. Food was served in the pavilion which is also where the press conferences take place. If coming, bring a heavy coat, even on a warm day! Should you want to phone ahead, phone 02 8718 418800
ACCOMMODATION: Nearest hotel is the Everglades Hotel, just four miles away on the main road to Londonderry. Also, the City Hotel in Derry City Centre is easily accessible. Even closer than the Everglades is a small but highly recommended bed and breakfast, Victoria Gate (rated No 5 by TripAdvisor of the 45 B&Bs in Derry), in a quiet cul de sac just off the main A5. There is free wifi and en suite in every room.
LEISURE: City of Derry Golf course (par 71) is at Victoria Gate and also has a good restaurant. So close to Northern Ireland’s second city, Londonderry/Derry, there is a vast selection of restaurants to choose from in the city. The Millennium Forum is one of Ireland’s largest purpose built theatres with many big names appearing and the Omniplex is an eight-screen cinema. For those who like football, Derry City play in the League of Ireland (the Republic’s top league) whose season runs from March to November at the Brandywell, which is situated on the Bogside.