Thursday 23 January 2020

From the Stands: Dundrum club snap up bargain new home

Marie Crowe, Seán Ryan and Dermot Gilleece

Dundrum South Dublin Athletic Club has ended their 15-year search for a new home with the purchase last week of 'St Thomas', a listed Georgian residence set on 15 acres in Whitechurch, Dublin 16.

The property cost €1.25m – a price scarcely credible in south Dublin only five years ago – but thanks to a combination of fundraising and money raised through one of the its marquee events, the Dublin Mini Marathon, the club had plenty of savings to fund their venture.

For the last number of years they've had a technical working group scouting potential locations.

Safety came first; they wanted a clubhouse with land where their young athletes could train in a secure environment. They now have 15 acres and within that is a six-acre field ideal for their needs, and a trail around the perimeter of the grounds.

Location was next on the list; being in close proximity to Marley Park was vital as many of the club's athletes train there. And there are also plans to build a track in the Park which the club could have access to. Conveniently, St Thomas is only 400 metres from the back gate of Marley Park. Having the Dublin Mountains behind their new home is an added bonus as the hills will facilitate those who want to go for longer runs.

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WHEN Shamrock Rovers won the League Cup last week, they became only the second Dublin club to win the trophy in the last 10 years. Similarly, only two Dublin clubs have won the FAI Cup in that period, and the provincial clubs have a strong hand this year also, with three of them in today's semi-finals against lone Dublin club, Shamrock Rovers.

It's a different story in the league, though, with Dublin clubs dominating 6-3 in the past nine years and St Patrick's Athletic on the verge of emphasising that dominance this year. The preponderance of games in the capital obviously favours Dublin clubs in the league, but that advantage doesn't apply in the cups.

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Among several hats being worn by Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village this weekend are as an unofficial, one-man welcoming committee for the Presidents Cup and owner-designer of the venue. And, by his own admission, the latter distinction has left him with mixed feelings.

There is understandable pride that Muirfield Village happens to be the first venue to host the Ryder Cup (1987), Solheim Cup (1998) and now the Presidents Cup. Indeed as American skipper, Nicklaus generously congratulated Eamonn Darcy on sinking a tricky, downhill five-footer on the 18th to win a crucial point in Europe's victory 26 years ago.

Which brings us to the downside and what he felt obliged to do with the famous finishing hole as a response to today's big hitters. By way of explanation, Nicklaus recalled being approached by Robert Garrigus at the 2012 Memorial Tournament, when he had the temerity to say to The Bear: "Jack, remember I drove it up to 76 yards from the hole last year? Well, I drove it to 64 yards today." To which the Bear reacted: "I wanted to wring his neck."

Instead, natural pragmatism prevailed. The uphill par-four has since been lengthened by 45 yards to just short of a formidable 500.

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After Clare's dramatic All-Ireland final win, images of Shane O'Donnell along with one of his brother in tears watching the All-Ireland final in Israel went viral. Next week, two of his éire óg clubmates, Brian Fitzpatrick and Ross Conlon, will be hoping to emulate his success when they take part in the Asian Games with their team the Taiwan Celts.

The club have entered two male teams and one female but with only 16 footballers from Ireland they are relying heavily on their international contingent. To make up the numbers, they recruited men and women from America, New Zealand, Australia, Latvia, Canada, Taiwan and India.

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IT'S not often you get a laugh from Aertel's sportspages, but it was laugh out loud last week when they interviewed the managers for today's FAI Ford Cup semi-finals and quoted Sligo Rovers' boss Ian Baraclough as saying: "They can be cagey affairs but hopefully it will be two teams going hammer and thongs . . ."

Should be an interesting game, if it sticks to the Aertel script.

Sunday Independent

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