Monday 22 April 2019

Banteer Community Sportsfield to unveil plans for €1.4m development

John Tarrant

Plans for a ner €1.4m sports centre that will serve generations to come will be unveiled by the Banteer Community Sportsfield committee alongside the launch of 100 years of Banteer Sports in the Glen Theatre, Banteer this Friday.

The Banteer Community Sportsfield group has recently been approved via IRD Duhallow for a major grant of €1.128m towards the development of an astroturf project from the Governments Rural Regeneration and Development fund. The grant aid is up to 80% funding and the community, those behind the project, will need to raise to €285,000 of matching funds to complete the full €1.41m project.

Banteer Community Sportsfield and Park is a community owned facility used by ladies football, camogie, hurling, gaelic football, soccer, walking, athletics and several other sports, and it also entails a children's playground. This facility has been developed over the years by the local community with grant support from LEADER, Cork County Council and Sports Capital funding as well as significant local fundraising.

The name of Banteer is synonymous with sports meetings hosted as early as May 1886, when the inaugural event attracted athletes far and wide. More than 45 years later Banteer Sportsfield was opened in 1952 and it has continued to thrive over the decades.

From 1888 the subsequent world champion Denis Horgan secured his first career win at 17 years. The 1950 meeting broke all records, and the last staging at Buckley's field heralded the need for a new location.

As the cost of developing the existing location was not feasible, two adjoining fields of parish lands and the adjoining railway station were made available by the parish priest, and with the expertise of engineers O'Keeffe & Busteed, Newmarket, the local supporters again went into action to provide an even better facility for athletics than had been provided over sixty years before. Progress continued apace in the excavation and levelling of the new sportsfield with an oval cinder track banked at the ends for safety of cyclists, and an inner grass track.

The Banteer venue was convenient to the Banteer Railway Station allowing for an attendances of 6,000 patrons at meetings over the years. Such was the recognised state of the surface, facilities and location, the All-Ireland Sports were hosted in the present sports field in 1965, 1966 and 1972 with cycling introduced as Banteer became famous for its cinder track.

Many GAA finals have been hosted at a venue immortalised in song and verse, and the complex is home to Banteer and Lyre GAA clubs. Very much a community sports location, soccer is also played with athletes, joggers and walkers enjoying the track as well as a walkway around a picturesque lake.