Huge excitement greeted the weekend announcement by Enniscorthy Hockey Club of their plans to establish a regional hockey pitch in Enniscorthy town. A formal agreement and twenty five year lease contract is due for completion this June in agreement with Enniscorthy Greyhound Track and County Showground owners. The club will commence a fundraising drive in July to raise the necessary thirty per cent of any future grant monies assigned from a joint application in conjunction with Hockey Ireland to the Sports Capital & Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Funding scheme.
There are currently three hockey clubs in the County and none have a home pitch. All currently play in Enniscorthy at the Astro Active Centre but access time is limited at this multipurpose shared pitch facility. Unlike other field sports hockey cannot be played on grass so an urgent need exists to secure independent tenure of facilities and to copper fasten access to competitive hockey locally. There are plans to investigate the development of the pitch on the grounds to an International pitch standard thus attracting national teams to play in Co Wexford in the coming years.
Chairperson of Enniscorthy Hockey Club, Irene Doyle commented “Enniscorthy has a long association with hockey and the club’s many achievements include winning the Irish Junior Cup. The club is successful and progressive, entering teams of all ages in the Leinster leagues. It is unique in the county because it is the only club which offers hockey for all ages and genders and is also noteworthy in Leinster as a club with no feeder schools in a town with DEIS status. The hockey club has developed close working links with the town’s DEIS schools and in conjunction with Hockey Ireland would plan to make this facility available for schools hockey during school hours. The hockey club is an asset of the town and draws visitors each weekend, it contributes to its social and economic standing along with the wellbeing of players. Our new facilities, when realised will raise the profile of Enniscorthy as an attractive location to live in or visit. Without a playable pitch, the future of hockey in Enniscorthy is threatened so this agreement is the start to achieving a huge endeavour. It is an exciting undertaking and will aid kids to access another sport locally while enhancing their health and opportunities in life”.
Suzanne O’Leary of the club pitch working group said “The sport of hockey currently ranks fourth in terms of world sport viewing stats and second in terms of European sport participation. The Irish Women’s Hockey team is currently ranked 8th in the world. It is managed by an Enniscorthy local and former international player Lisa Jacob. The team are currently preparing for this year’s Olympics and is a fast growing and high profile sport which is going from strength to strength in Ireland. Many clubs, including Enniscorthy Hockey Club have a wait list for new members because we do not have enough access to a pitch nor club facilities. The development of a regional centre would enable all clubs to increase participation in sport and further develop hockey in the town and county”.
Jim Hendrick, Chairperson of the County Showgrounds stated “We recognise the instability of the current situation and the threat the lack of tenure on a pitch poses for the hockey club in Enniscorthy and other teams in Co Wexford. We are very happy to work together and offer space for use”. Paddy Kavanagh of Enniscorthy Greyhound Track added “The plans to develop a regional facility in Enniscorthy, currently the heart of hockey in the County are most welcome. What was required to bring this development to town is a suitable site and the greyhound track centre on the Showgrounds is a perfect solution. With the support of the Enniscorthy greyhound community, our Chamber, County Council and local Public Representatives, we will all be enabled to assist Enniscorthy Hockey Club to bring this project to fruition”.
Images: (John Walsh People Newspapers)