Saturday 23 September 2017

Hosting of Euro team event next on the agenda for Hennessy

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

IRELAND'S lack of indoor facilities continues to be a massive bug-bear, but a major international outdoor championships could yet be hosted here in the coming seasons.

Returned Athletics Ireland (AAI) president Liam Hennessy revealed at Congress that he believes it is "essential" for AAI to continue hosting international events.

And he will be suggesting to the new AAI board that the European Team Championships would be the ideal event to target.

Hennessy masterminded Ireland's successful bid to host the European Cross-Country Championships last December.

Despite the fact that hosting it cost €608,128 and eventually left AAI with a debt of €83,000, he still believes AAI should bid for such events, providing that they are "underpinned with institutional funding." Hennessy revealed that "a confluence of events created havoc with our budget" last December which, he admitted, "was the most difficult organisational challenge I was involved with."

The global recession and its effect on sponsorship/marketing budgets proved a major setback to the Irish organisers. In the end the heavy costs were offset by a grant from the Irish Sports Council, believed to be over €220,000.

logistics

The European Team Championships replaced the old European Cup last season and would involve far less numbers and logistics. Countries can apply to host one of its four divisions, which contain eight to 12 nations.

The men's and women's teams compete in the same division and contribute jointly to a nation's overall points total.

Ireland were second in the third division last year, behind Lithuania, which clinched promotion to the second division, which, this season, takes place in Budapest on June 19-20.

The European federation have also experimented with the competition's format (elimination laps in distance races and less rounds in the field events) to try to produce a tighter and more exciting format, so it is certainly an event with great spectator potential.

Facilities-wise, AAI CEO John Foley made a commitment at Congress to help upgrade the indoor facility in Nenagh which, while far from perfect, remains the country's national indoor stadium and is a testament to the remarkable dedication and fortitude of local organiser Sean Naughton.

Elsewhere, Maria McCambridge will lead the Irish challenge at the Belfast marathon on Monday, where Kenya's John Mutai (44) is hoping to break Marty Deane's 2:15.51 record as well as winning a fourth consecutive title.

Irish Independent

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