Athletics: Cork City Sports to find new home away from Mardyke
IRELAND'S premier international meeting, the Cork City Sports (CCS), is moving out of the Mardyke this summer and looks likely to be permanently based in Cork Institute of Technology in future.
The CCS only took place outside the Mardyke twice before in its 58-year history and this year's move was planned long before the legendary UCC venue was badly damaged by the pre-Christmas Cork flooding.
The change was prompted by Cork IT building a new stand which holds 1,200 spectators. Their new facility also incorporates a Santry-like indoor strip that can facilitate training and warm-up and the facility is also going to provide a meeting space for the Cork Athletics Board.
"Assuming that everything works out well this year (on July 3) we would look at the Institute of Technology as a strong option for the future," Cork City Sports Chairman Dick Hodgins admitted.
"It offers us facilities that we didn't have before, including room for all field events."
While the long jump and high jump provided some of the recent highlights at the Mardyke, the university venue could only host shot and discus in the throws.
But using CIT means that the big Cork international could showcase a top Irish talent like World hammer finalist Eileen O'Keeffe in future. Hodgins stressed that this summer's schedule has still to be finalised and that women's hammer may not, necessarily, be included.
"We don't put on events just for the sake of putting them on," he said. "If we have a few decent throwers we would certainly be interested, but keeping up the standard and quality of our meet is the most important thing."
Cork IT hosted the event once before, in 2001, on the City Sport's 50th anniversary.
The event was also once held in Pairc Ui Chaoimh when a new track was being laid at the Mardyke.
Despite losing its title sponsor recently, Cork City Sports continues to be the premier track international in the country, offering world-class competition to Ireland's elite athletes. It is also an official event on the European Athletics Union's calendar.
Over the years it has attracted the cream of international athletes and huge names like Johnny Grey, Nouredine Morceli, Sidney Maree, Reese Hoffa, Mary Decker-Slaney and Elana Meyer who still hold CCC meet records -- not to mention local hero Sonia O'Sullivan.
The only other event on this island to match its status is the Antrim Cross-Country International which is an IAAF event and part of the McCain Cross-country series.
This year's field at Greenmount on January 23 will include new European cross-country champion Hayley Yelling, the 36-year-old Briton who surprised so many with her brilliant run in Santry after coming out of retirement.
She's no stranger to Northern Ireland though as she won this event, in Stormont, two years ago and was second in it in 2003 behind Werknesh Kidane.
Elsewhere, while most of Ireland's elite senior stars are currently enjoying a warm-weather training camp in Portugal, arctic conditions at home have laid waste to a host of upcoming fixtures, including the Cork Board AGM, the Leinster cross-countries (postponed to February 14) and a variety of road-races.
The Leinster 'Star' awards ceremony, which were due to take place tomorrow, has also been postponed for a week and refixed for January 16 at the same venue (Seven Oaks, Carlow).
Most major cancellations are being signalled on the Athletics Ireland website, but if in doubt competitors should check with local organisers.
Another website worth checking out for the year ahead is the Business Houses Athletics Association (www.bhaa.ie), who have just confirmed their 2010 fixtures. However their first race of the season, a cross-country in Tymon Park tomorrow, has also been postponed.