NEW TRACK FOR CO.MAYO
Officially opened by Deputy Michael Ring Photo credit : Trish Forde (Forde Photography Ballinrobe)
The new athletics track at The Green in Ballinrobe was officially opened by Deputy Michael Ring to pomp and ceremony on Saturday last. Over the past three years, Lake District Athletic Club have worked tirelessly on developing the track which is now open alongside Ballinrobe Rugby and Soccer club facilities as well as the astro-turf at the 'Sports Hub' at The Green.
The event was also attended by Deputy Alan Dillon, MEP Maria Walsh, local councillors Michael Burke, Patsy O'Brien and Damien Ryan as well as the main sponsors of the track, patrons, supporters, coaches, athletes, parents and many visitors from all over South Mayo and North Galway.
Prior to the official event, the club showcased some of their talents and gave younger children the opportunity to try out events such as the long-jump, javelin, shot putt, high jump and hurdles. Diarmuid Duffy, Conor Cusack and Oisin Joyce, who are International javelin athletes with the club were on hand to assist coaches.
In 2019, the committee embarked on the large-scale project which now incorporates a 200m running track, sprint lanes, a long jump pit, shot putt, high jump and throws area. Construction began in 2021 after Christmas and was completed in eight months, having been designed by local architect Donal McCormack and constructed by local business, John Madden and Sons.
The entire development cost €366,000 while they were fortunate to receive funding of €180,000 from the Capital Sports Programme. They also received a huge amount of support from many local businesses, patrons and supporters. Without their help this project would not have been possible.
Youth members enjoying the new track Photo credit : Trish Forde (Forde Photography Ballinrobe)
Speaking on Saturday last, Deputy Ring commended the committee, without whom this project would not have come to fruition.
“On behalf of the community, the Government, but especially the children here today, some of whom have already brought fame to Ballinrobe, some have Mayo, Connaught, All-Ireland medals and please God some will go on at some stage to represent Ireland because now they have facilities that they can train on. We now have three regional tracks in Claremorris, Ballinrobe and Ballina so they have a great future in athletics.”
He said the club had done everything possible to create this track and with outstanding funds to be paid off, he and his colleagues would find some way to help them with this.
Deputy Alan Dillon said we can't have enough state-of-the-art facilities like this. “For anyone who wants to participate in recreational or competitive athletics, this provides that amenity. We have an array of local, national and international athletes here who have put Lake District, Ballinrobe and South Mayo on the map and are huge ambassadors for the next generation who aspire to make that grade.”
The three local councillors also spoke of their pride at seeing the development now up and running and pledged their support to the club going forward.
Former chairperson Linda Cusack said the project started as a pipe dream in 2016 which they brought forward in 2017. “A very small group of hard working committee members. We kept going until we got here today.
Some of the athletes we started off with weren't even of age to compete. Word got round and we trained on the rugby pitch. We brought athletes to Claremorris to get them used to competing on the track. There was no track between Claremorris and Galway City so there was an obvious huge need for a track.”
Treasurer Seamus Coyne said: “We all know it takes a village to raise a child and in our case it took the entire community to raise the funds to build the track. We now have an all-weather all year around facility with the addition of state-of-the-art LED lights recently. We still have a loan outstanding but with the continued support of our benefactors we hope to pay that off.”