Minister: Abbotstown will be completed

SPORTS Minister Martin Cullen, has reaffirmed his commitment to the completion of the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown.

While the Institute of Sport, FAI and National Aquatic Centre are now based on the campus, the goal of establishing the venue as a headquarters for all the country’s elite athletes has not yet become a reality with government funding for facilities such as an indoor athletic track and velodrome scaled back in light of the recession.

With some of the major construction projects in other sports having finished recently, or being close to finishing, Minister Cullen has promised that the Abbotstown complex will return as a priority.

“I am losing no heart and commitment to completing the work at Abbotstown,” he declared.

“This will be absolutely crucial to the development of sport in this country. The National Aquatic Centre is already a huge success but I do really want to see it completed.

“Obviously there are delays but we can’t do everything we want to do at the moment in the climate but with the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road almost completed and Thomond Park and Croke Park finished, there will be an opportunity.

“I want to see it finished on all levels, with all the facilities that are needed. I want to bring in a velodrome as well” he added.

The minister was speaking at the announcement of the Irish Sports Council’s High Performance grants in Dublin, which contrary to recent trends, are only marginally down on last year.

A total of €8.35 million was doled out, with €5.7 million going to 16 sports bodies (down 4% on last year when one takes account of the €450,000 included in this year’s figure for sports science and medicine service delivery), and €2.65 million committed to 273 athletes and four teams (up marginally on last year).

World champion boxer Katie Taylor, world championship silver medallist walker Olive Loughnane, canoeist Eoin Rheinisch and Paralympics cyclist Catherine Walsh were among 16 athletes who received the top level of €40,000 under the carding system.

World-ranked athletes Derval O’Rourke and David Gillick were also on the list, which is completed by boxers such as Olympic medallists Paddy Barnes and Kenny Egan, John Joe Joyce, John Joe Nevin, Ross Hickey and Eamonn O’Kane, Paralympic athletes Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth, and cerebral palsy competitor, Gabriel Shelly.

The Institute of Sport’s director of high performance management, Gary Keegan, drew up a more rigorous performance planning system for the grants, with a view to developing services at the cutting edge of sport.

The success of Loughnane, O’Rourke, Gillick, Taylor, Nevin, cyclist Nicholas Roche, golfer Shane Lowry and the Irish cricket team represented a good return at the elite level, said the ISC’s high performance director Finbarr Kirwan, but the success at developmental and youth level was even more significant he argued.

Last year, Gráinne Murphy (swimming), Ciara Mageean (athletics), Philip Doran (sailing), Annalise Murphy (Sailing), Joe Ward (boxing) and Jason Quigley (boxing) won gold, silver and bronze medals at world and European championships.

Some of the targets set for the year ahead include winning two medals at the European athletics championships and having six top 12 performers.

At the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, the goal will be to qualify a team in show jumping and eventing, while one medal in the European championships and a medal in the world’s women’s championships will be expected from boxing.


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