Minister visits Maur's and Skerries Rugby
The Minster for Sport and Tourism, Brendan Griffin, and a number of local politicians paid a visit to St Maur's GAA Club in Rush recently to hear the latest update on a key development project which will provide lasting benefit to the local community, including five parish schools.
The Minister also formally presented the club with its 2017 sports capital grant cheque for €102,400, which was gratefully received by club chairman Derek Farren.
St Maur's, a club of 1200 members with over 50 per cent growth in the last ten years, has had to invest in a major new pitch development over a series of phases to cater for its increasing membership, both social and active.
The first phase, featuring a new all-weather pitch, is already underway following a hugely positive response from the local community. The club competes in senior football and hurling, ladies football and camogie, and has over 40 juvenile teams.
St Maur's is one of the most progressive clubs in the Fingal area and has been represented at county level in all codes.
Recently their adult hurling team was voted Team of the Year at the Fingal Independent/Maldron Hotel sports awards for 2018.
The club is now firmly established as the social and recreational hub of the community. Schools, families and other organisations regularly benefit from, and greatly depend on, the St Maur's club for use of its facilities.
Despite its invaluable contribution to society, made possible through an immense voluntary effort, St Maur's is the only club of its size in Fingal that does not benefit from the use of council pitches. In recent years the club engaged with Fingal County Council in exploring the possibility of developing an all-weather pitch on a joint venture basis with another sports organisation but the parties were unable to make satisfactory progress, according to the club.
When that avenue failed, the club was left with little choice but to go its own way.
'As things stand the five parish schools don't have a single playing pitch available to them,' explains Peter Monks, the club secretary.
'This made the current development project all the more urgent and necessary,' he stressed, with the second phase to include the construction of a sand-based pitch adjoining the all-weather facility.
'We need four pitches to sustain growth,' said Mr Monks.
Up to now, the club has relied on two grass pitches and one grass training pitch, with inadequate lighting. The club has been obliged to rent all-weather facilities elsewhere during the winter so their teams can train.
During his recent visit to Rush, Minister Griffin, also accompanied by Deputy Alan Farrell TD, Senator James Reilly and local councillors Brian Dennehy, Tom O'Leary and local election candidate, Jim Monks, was fully briefed on the club's plans for 2019.
The club has raised a phenomenal €400,000 through private donations and fundraising, and managed to pay off a pre-existing loan of €140,000.
Along with one grant of €100,000, its first grant for many years, it has borrowed €500,000 to fund the project which has the promotion slogan, 'Creating the Future'.
The Minister's visit to the club, and the presence of the other representatives, was a welcome opportunity for the club to make a fresh plea for support.
Deputy Alan Farrell might be seen to have a particular interest in a project of this nature having been nominated by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar as Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs in 2017. The role of GAA clubs in providing a valuable social and sporting outlet to children is widely acknowledged.
St Maur's has submitted an application for further grant assistance under the 2019 sports capital grants programme and is looking forward to a positive response, which many feel would be a fitting recognition of the club's commendable efforts in providing vital sporting and recreational facilities for the local community in an expanding population area.
'We are committed through legal agreements to share our facilities with the schools of Rush,' explained Mr Monks.
He added: 'A new road to the club is also overdue - initially earmarked for 2018 - to increase and improve access for club users. The second grant is essential to carry the first phase of our project through, and will enable us to install floodlights on the all-weather, which are essential to make the facility fully operational.
'We have plans to also upgrade our grass pitches which are also essential is safeguarding the future of the club and providing the basic facilities needed to continue to prosper. We will need a continued partnership with Fingal Council and the schools to ensure an appropriate standard of access for future pitches and facilities going forward.'
Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell said was pleased to welcome the Minister of State with responsibility for Sport, Brendan Griffin TD to St. Maur's GAA Club, Rush and aldo Skerries Rugby Club to see how Sports Capital funding has benefitted the clubs and the local community.
He said: 'St. Maur's received €102,400 in Sports Capital funding when the last round of grants was announced in November 2017 and Skerries Rugby Club was granted €148,500. This Sports Capital funding went towards projects allowing for the development of an all-weather pitch for both St. Maur's GAA club and Skerries Rugby Club, benefitting the clubs' themselves, players, the local schools and indeed the communities of Rush, Skerries and their surrounding areas. St. Maur's GAA Club is now working towards gaining funding for the provision of floodlighting, and I will be happy to support all applications made by the club.'