Manager says racing still on track at Enniscorthy
THE race manager at Enniscorthy greyhound track has come out of the traps fighting after pessimistic reports about the future of the venue appeared in the 'Irish Examiner' last week.
'We are definitely here to stay and, as far as we are concerned, we are doing well,' said Michael Dempsey.
The newspaper reported that the track company owes thousands of euro to the Irish Greyhound Board and that attendances were running at 188 paying spectators per evening at its traditional Monday and Thursday night meets.
However, the reaction around the Ross Road is that the piece was based on last year's figures and the long established stadium continues to appeal to race followers, especially in summer.
Numbers attending in 2014 have been boosted by a series of crowd pulling benefit nights and, even without a benefit night, there were queues for the tote last Thursday.
While most of the 19 tracks around the country are controlled by Bord na gCon, Enniscorthy remains in private hands along with the likes of Thurles, Lifford, Longford and Youghal.
'The future of Enniscorthy track is sound enough,' reckons greyhound racing journalist Michael Fortune. 'I would not be too pessimistic.'
The Bree native pointed out that, unlike some other tracks such as Waterford, the Ross Road continues to attract book makers, with Paddy Sharkey and John Doyle both offering their services regularly.
While the average attendance of paying spectators last year may have been under the 200 mark per night last year, this figure was bulked out by owners, trainers and their families.
'Enniscorthy does very well in the summer,' Fortune observed, noting that benefit nights have recently boosted the numbers coming in through the stiles.
The recent Enniscorthy credit union 50th anniversary celebration attracted a 'massive crowd', he recalled.
The amount gambled on the tote that evening was bigger than the combined take of all the other meets in the country on that Monday and Tuesday.
'We cannot afford to lose the track from the town,' said publican and former dog owner John Doyle.
He suggested that the €10 price of admission deters some followers of the sport and suggested that this could be reduced on some Monday evenings to help generate a crowd.
The sport has been struggling through the recession with tote turnover tumbling and crowds down all over Ireland, though Shelbourne Park, Cork and Mullingar have continued to prosper.
The immediate reaction of management at Ross Road was that the 'Irish Examiner' piece did not present the full picture.
A big push to attract benefit nights, with parishes, sports clubs and other fundraisers bringing bumper turn-outs, has paid benefits.
While there were just two benefit nights during 2013, so far this year there have been 16 such crowd pullers.
'It's starting to pick up,' observed one regular, 'but there is still a long way to go.'