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  • Southside

Ireland stars tip-off on new hockey pitch

Saturday, 21st November, 2015 3:00pm

Story by Neil Fetherstonhaugh
Ireland stars tip-off on new hockey pitch

Members of the Ireland Women’s Hockey Team are pictured with Rathdown Junior School mascots at the official opening of the Merrion Fleet Arena.

Ireland stars tip-off on new hockey pitch

Members of the Ireland Women’s Hockey Team are pictured with Rathdown Junior School mascots at the official opening of the Merrion Fleet Arena.

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IRELAND’S national hockey teams were among the participants at a festival of hockey to mark the official opening of a new world-class hockey facility on the Rathdown School campus in Glenageary.

A joint initiative between Rathdown School and Monkstown Hockey Club, the Merrion Fleet Arena is a water-based pitch that incorporates a Greenfields carpet as used at the 2014 Hockey World Cup in Holland, Musco lighting and a 175-seat viewing stand.

Members of the hockey and local communities gathered for the event, with both Ireland’s men’s and women’s hockey teams taking to the pitch to celebrate the occasion.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, which was officiated by broadcaster and local resident Pat Kenny, Patsy Ashe, Chairperson, Rathdown School Board of Governors, said: “We are delighted to see this ambitious project come to fruition.

“Building on the success of both our senior and junior hockey teams in recent years, we hope that the new facility will support the development and growth of hockey at Rathdown to the highest possible level. It will ensure that the girls have every opportunity to participate on a regular basis, to reach their full potential and ultimately to develop a sport for life.”

Trevor Watkins, President of Monkstown Hockey Club, added: “This is a milestone for our club, as it has allowed us reduce our waiting lists for girls and boys, increase the number of senior teams and provides a great venue for EY Irish Hockey league matches.”

In conjunction with its use by Rathdown and Monkstown Hockey Club, the new facility will be utilised by a number of local primary schools, as well as for hockey camps and training camps for representative teams.

Rathdown and Monkstown Hockey Club were successful in their joint application for a Sports Capital Grant for the project from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Monkstown Hockey Club, supported by the Leinster Hockey Association, also made a capital contribution. 

Addressing guests at the event, Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor (FG), said: “Participating in sport is vital to all our health. Hockey is played from age seven to 70 and we are delighted to help so many, especially girls and boys, get the opportunity to play this sport.”

Rathdown Sport is sponsored by independent fleet management company Merrion Fleet Management and the new facility is known as the ‘Merrion Fleet Arena’. Speaking at the launch, Sarah Dunn, Founding Director at Merrion Fleet Management said: “We are delighted to help the girls of Rathdown participate in and excel in sport.”

Pictured at the official opening of the Merrion Fleet Arena, are (from left) Graham Shaw, Director of Hockey at Rathdown School; Bryan Evans, Chair, Rathdown School Sports Committee; broadcaster Pat Kenny; Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor; Dennis O’Connor, Rathdown Sports Committee; Sarah Dunn of Merri

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