Skibbereen Rowing Club, Bohemians/DCU and the Tipperary GAA County Board were among the biggest winners as the largest sports capital grant in the history of the State, worth €150 million, was announced on Friday.
More than 1,900 clubs and schools will benefit from capital grants to build new sporting facilities or upgrade existing ones. Every county will see projects being funded.
The total amount of funding will be €150 million made up of €126.7 million in funding at a county by county level with an additional €17.2 million for regional sports facilities. A further €6 million has been held in reserve for appeals. In August separate funding of €16.6 million was allocated for sports equipment.
Thirty-five sports are included, with GAA, rugby and soccer among major recipients, as well as other sports including tennis, kayaking, boxing, cricket and wheelchair activities.
Priority has been given to sporting bodies that encourage female participation and also those that operate in disadvantaged areas.
The announcement was made by Minister for Sport Catherine Martin and Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers. The payments will be made through the sports capital and equipment programme operated by the Department of Sport.
The Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said the allocation was "by far and away" the largest amount of money allocated to sports in Ireland.
“We made a conscious decision as a Government to go big on sport. I really think we get a fantastic return on our investment.”
More than 3,000 sporting bodies and schools applied for funding. Applications began in 2020 and closed in March last year.
The projects being funded include upgraded GAA facilities, pitch draining, clubhouse refurbishment, new walkways, floodlights, indoor domes and gym facilities.
All unsuccessful applicants will be given the opportunity to appeal the Department’s decision and information on the appeal process will issue to relevant organisations in the coming weeks. Some €6 million has been set aside to cover successful appeals under this process.
Among the recipients are the Skibbereen Rowing Club which produced Olympic champions Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy. They will receive €66,000 for new gym facilities.
Dublin is the largest recipient, receiving more than €16 million in grant-aided projects, followed by Cork (€13.9 million), Galway (€8.8 million), Limerick (€6.8 million) and Tipperary (€6.3 million).
Ms Martin said it had been a tough two years for many sporting clubs “but the pandemic really demonstrated the importance of sport for our collective wellbeing”.
“The grants we are announcing today will significantly improve sports facilities in every county. There is a huge variety of different sports covered and I was particularly pleased that the scoring system placed an even greater emphasis on female participation,” she said.
She later tweeted that 18 sports clubs in her own constituency of Dublin Rathdown received grants. Among the recipients were DLR (Dun Laoghaire-Rathmines) Meadowbrook (€166,757), Fernhill DLR changing rooms (€151,320), St Olaf’s GAA club (€150,000) and Dundrum South Dublin Athletics (€150,000).
Among the facilities that received funding in Mr Chambers’ constituency was Ongar Chasers Basketball Club, in partnership with Hansfield Educate Together Secondary School (HETSS) which has received the maximum grant available of €150,000.
This funding will be used to create an outdoor training facility on the grounds of HETSS. The steel-framed structure while remaining outdoors will be partially clad to provide protection from wind and rain.
Mr Chambers added that the pandemic “revealed to us all the importance of community and I am particularly pleased that so many community centres and organisations have been allocated funding to develop projects in towns and villages across the country”.
League of Ireland clubs received more than €1.7 million in funding. Cobh Ramblers, along with Bohs, have received the maximum €300,000 to upgrade St Colman's Park, their home ground. Sligo Rovers received €211,674 to redevelop the Showgrounds as part of their plans to be able to host European football in a UEFA approved stadium. League champions Shamrock Rovers have been given €149,448 to install LED floodlights on its academy's grass pitch.
Among the big winners were:
Carlow: St Leo's College, hockey pitch upgrade – €300,000
Cork: Cork Rugby Stadium, upgrading of existing floodlighting installation –€300,000
Cork: Cobh Ramblers Football Club, upgrade of club facilities and equipment – €300,000
Donegal: Donegal County Board GAA Centre, pitch and ancillary works – €300,000
Dublin: Dublin County Board GAA, Spawell development – €300,000
Dublin: Dublin City University and Bohemians FC, artificial pitch development – €300,000
Dublin: Canoeing Ireland (Irish Canoe Union), upgrade national training centre – €173,474
Dublin: Irish Girl Guides, health and wellness facility – €300,000
Dublin: Irish Wheelchair Association, sports equipment – €215,195
Galway: Galway County Board GAA, Tuam Stadium redevelopment – €297,073
Galway: Moanbaun Sports and Development Project, provision of a regional eight-lane running track – €300,000
Laois: Regional hockey pitch at Dunamase Collee – €300,000
Longford: Longford Athletics Club, upgrade of indoor athletics centre of excellence – €300,000
Meath: Meath GAA Centre of Excellence, pitch development – €256,863
Sligo: Sligo Rovers, floodlighting upgrade and other ground improvements – €211, 674
Tipperary: Tipperary County Board GAA, Dr Morris Park dressing rooms – €300,000
Westmeath: Athlone Town dressing rooms, toilet facilities, fitness suite – €251,675
Westmeath: Westmeath County Board GAA, upgrade of TEG Cusack Park – €300,000
If you are reading this on mobile you can find the full list of sports grants here.