By Dan Walsh
Hockey Ireland and Enniscorthy Hockey Club have announced ambitious plans to develop a Regional Centre for Excellence for Hockey in the South-East located at the County Showgrounds, Enniscorthy.
A formal agreement and 25-year lease contract is due for completion this month in agreement with Enniscorthy Greyhound Track and County Showgrounds. Enniscorthy Hockey Club will commence a fundraising drive 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.
Chairperson of Enniscorthy Hockey Club, Irene Doyle pointed out that 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,” she added.
Suzanne O’Leary of the club pitch working group said; “The sport of hockey currently ranks fourth in terms of world sport viewing statistics and second in terms of European sport participation. The Irish Women’s Hockey team is currently ranked eighth 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. The development of a regional centre would enable all clubs to increase participation in sport and further develop hockey in the town and county”.
There are currently three hockey clubs in County Wexford and none have a home pitch. All currently play in Enniscorthy at the Astro Active Centre but access time is limited at this multi-purpose 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 in the coming years.