An Athletic Challenge of a Different Kind

by Heike O’Sullivan
As reported in the February edition of the Kenmare News, your favourite free monthly magazine, plans for a Compact Athletics Training Facility in Kenmare have received a great boost with a €36,000 grant allocation by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD visited Kenmare in person to deliver the good news.

The planned outdoor Training Facility would not just benefit the members of Kenmare A.C. It is to be located within the grounds of Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine, adjoining the school’s sports field, and Kenmare’s primary and secondary school pupils would also use the cleverly designed development. The Training Facility would enable diverse and attractive additions to P.E. classes because at the moment, the nearest athletics facilities are at An Ríocht A.C. in Castleisland which boasts a state of the art sports centre.

Kenmare’s proposed Compact Athletics Training Facility would include a four-lane Sprint Track with synthetic surface that will double as the Long Jump runway, and part of the Javelin runway. The sand pit with its removable cover will accommodate Long Jump as well as Triple Jump athletes. The High Jump installation will also feature a mobile cover to protect the mats when not in use. There will be two Shot Put circles which may also serve as Discus and Hammer bases if safety nets would be installed in a future, further phase to the development. The design of the facility would maximise use of the small area of the site perfectly.

When I spoke to Chairman of Kenmare Athletic Club Conor Daly back in 2017, the club was just battling its way through the notoriously laborious LEADER grant application system, hoping to secure funds to assist with the construction of the planned Training Facility. Over the course of almost a year, a lot of time and effort was put into this application but despite enormous help from Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine’s Board of Management, the applicants fell at the final hurdle (terrible pun, I know, my bad) because the land the facility would be built on is publicly owned by the Department of Education.

Kenmare A.C. then diverted its energy into applying for a Sports Capital Grant instead. Conor Daly says, “Again, we came against the huge stumbling block of the publicly owned site but we got massive support from Brendan Griffin. Brendan succeeded in getting a change made to the rules of the Sports Grant application system and as a result, the Department confirmed a grant of €36,000 to us if we’ll be able to come up with the remainder of the cost of the facility from within the community.”

“There is already some money put away for this within our club, but essentially, if Kenmare wants this Training Facility, we’ll have to raise roughly €50,000,” explains Conor. In past years, fundraisers such as the successful ‘Couch to 5k’ program and the popular ‘Kenmare Bridge Run’ have contributed to the kitty, but more support is needed. If you are a business owner dedicated to your community or a generous individual and would like to contribute to the planned Compact Athletics Training Facility, please phone Conor on 087 2670992. Every little helps!

If you are a regular reader of the Kenmare News, you will be aware of the great success story of Kenmare A.C. and its athletes. The club has over 250 members, making it one of the biggest clubs in the country. Most members fall into the U5 to U19 categories, and include a multiple Munster champion and Kerry Sports Star Award recipient! Yearly membership costs only €35.

Thanks to the generosity of Kenmare Shamrocks, indoor training for all members takes place at Kenmare’s GAA sports complex every Friday night. “Over 200 kids are turning up most nights”, says Conor.

Can you, dear Reader, image how many more youngsters might be attracted to join Kenmare A.C. once locally available training facilities are in place, instead of straining their eyes staring at their smartphones all evening and every weekend? How much more glory Kenmare’s athletes could bring to Kenmare if they would have the opportunity to practice several times a week, in their hometown, instead of having to travel all the way to Castleisland? Come on Kenmare, let’s make this happen!