Dream of athletics track moves a step closer

The dream of a state-of-the-art athletics track for Dundalk moved a step closer when news that the facility could be up and running by 2020.

Fintan Reilly, the chairman of Dundalk Athletics Ground Ltd has expressed his delight following the news that design work will begin in the coming months on a new Municipal Athletics Facility which will be open to the public and managed by Louth County Council. The facility will be open to all and there will be provisions made to allow further developments in years to come.

The announcement was the result of a collaborative effort between Dundalk Athletics Ground Ltd (an amalgamation of the six athletics clubs in Dundalk/Blackrock), DkIT, Louth County Council and local politicians. The track will be built in the Muirhevnamor District Park with detailed designed works commencing over the summer months. The project will consist of an eight-lane athletics grass track with associated facilities for use by athletics clubs and the general community.

Funding of €92,500 from the Sports Capital Grant has been secured towards the installation of the track and this will be used during phase 1 of the project.

There is still plenty of fundraising work to do for Dundalk Athletics Ground Ltd with €1.5m still to be found but chairman Fintan Reilly is confident that this will be achieved.

“We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to ensure we raise the remaining money needed for this project but I’m confident we can get it done. The big stumbling block for us was getting this off the ground and I’m delighted that we’ve managed to do that.

“We have been a long time in discussions on getting a venue that best serves a top-class athletics facility as well as being delivered in a timely fashion. It shows when we work together it’s possible to get things done. We had six clubs getting together for a common purpose and we worked closely with Joan Martin and her team in Louth County Council who have been very supportive in recognizing that an athletics track for Dundalk is long overdue.

“I would also like to thank Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick for keeping this at the forefront of Louth County Councils agenda and his ongoing support and commitment to getting us to this stage. We are only at the beginning of a journey. There is a lot of fundraising to be done but the buy in by Louth County Council will make our dream a reality within a relatively short timeframe. Thanks to all our committee and their club members for being patient and letting a long process take its course,” stated Fintan.

The only murmers of discontent to be heard regarding the new project have been in relation to the grass track with many people on social media asking why a tartan track wasn’t been used instead. A tartan track is a an all weather synthetic track surface made of polyurethane. However, Fintan was quick to quell any fears that the grass track would be a long-term plan for the new project.

“I’ve seen a lot of people giving out about the grass track but this is only going to be a temporary thing. This is only stage 1 of the project which we are about to embark on. The end result will see an eight-lane international standard tartan track put in but that will be later on in the development of the project,” explained Fintan.

“This good news regarding the athletics track couldn’t have come at a better time really. Athletics is booming locally and we have so many talented young runners who will be able to improve by using this facility. We’ve seen Patience Jumbo Gula and Israel Olatende perform brilliantly at the U18 European Championships and we have Kate O’Connor doing great things in the heptathlon so there really is a lot to be excited by and this new athletics track will only produce more top class athletes,” predicted Fintan.

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