Leevale gets set for new era as €1.7m High Performance Centre off the mark

Fittingly for an acclaimed athletics club, the powerbrokers at Leevale AC don’t believe in standing still.

Since its creation in 1967, the famous Cork outfit has shaped, nurtured and produced athletes who have achieved success and acclaim on both the national and international stage.

And now they plan to raise the bar again with the development of a High Performance Centre at an estimated cost of €1.7m.

The new clubhouse, on the site of a former garage on Farranlea Road, is located between the UCC and Cork IT tracks, which are both extensively used by the club for training.

Leevale AC chairman Donal Murnane admits the project is an exciting chapter in the club’s proud history.

“The club has been building steadily for the past 10 years. We have been very strong at juvenile level and have been making a concerted effort to develop our senior and international athletes.

“Currently we have three athletes qualified for the Rio Olympics — Lizzie Lee (marathon), Michelle Finn (3000 steeplechase), Alex Wright (20 and 50k) — with a few more on the cusp of securing places.

“They are all middle distance athletes, and to develop middle distance talents the focus is on running on the roads, tracks and trails.

“But for the likes of more technical events like sprinting, hurdling, and so on, you need to have the facilities where members can train during the winter months.

“That is the central reason behind this project: we want to develop all aspects of athletics, not just the middle distances.”

The new facility will help tick that box. The core of the centre will be a large sports hall equipped with state of the art analysis equipment along with dedicated set ups for hurdles, sprints, high jump, long jump, pole vault, shot putt, discus, javelin circuit training, and an athlete-centred gym.

The building crew are already on site beginning their preparatory work with construction proper hoped to commence within six weeks. Murnane is confident of having the facility operational by next winter.

“This is a project that started eight years ago. Last year this site came up and its location near both the UCC and Cork IT tracks made it a perfect fit for us. When we bought the building, we engaged with all the neighbours, we went door to door and also met with the residents association to lay out our plans. We got a very positive response. And now we are looking forward to the next few months and the years ahead.”

The project will cost the club an estimated €1.7 million, most of these funds are available from a well managed building fund which was set up by club members in the 1990s while the balance will be supported by capital grants.

Leevale’s membership stands at around 600 and Murnane hopes some of those will become household names in the years ahead.

“We have seen continuous growth for the last 10 years. Both our juvenile, senior sections are growing and growing. The key thing is having very good groups and very good coaches. It is all about structures and being able to move athletes from coach to coach. Success breeds success.”

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