Cork Track Crisis: The Current State of Play

March 14, 2024

As the Track & Field Season approaches, the closure of the Mardyke track in Cork has sent ripples of concern throughout the athletic community. With plans having been in place to host the Juvenile Championships in the Mardyke over three Sundays, with Field Events being held in Castleisland (Javelin), Leevale AC's High Performance Centre (Pole Vault), and Kilworth (Hammer & Discus), the closure means Cork Athletics are now scrambling for alternatives. 

John Quigley, Cork Athletics County Board Webmaster, told Run Republic that it has been 'mayhem' since Monday's announcement of he Mardyke closure. Enquiries into alternative venues such as Clonmel and Newcastle West have been made, but limited parking renders these options unsuitable for hosting championship meets. Castleisland, pending availability, looks like it may be hosting the entirety of the Championships. 

Adding to the woes is the prolonged closure of the MTU Track, which has been out of commission for over a year. Despite partial relaying, the final surfacing and additional works remain pending. The timeline for completion has been tentatively set for mid to late May.

Quigley expressed his disappointment, highlighting the impact of the closures on Cork's rich athletic legacy. "Cork has consistently punched above its weight in providing high-level international athletes and Olympic medalists. To now have no training facility, it's depressing" remarked Quigley, echoing the sentiments of many within the athletic community.

Looking ahead, the development of tracks in Bandon, Mallow, and the Midleton/East Cork region offers a glimmer of hope. However, completion timelines remain uncertain, with Bandon AC's track still a year away from surfacing, according to Quigley. Plans for a track in Mallow are reportedly in the early stages, while feasibility studies are underway for the Midleton/East Cork project.

The closure of the Mardyke track, coupled with the ongoing challenges surrounding MTU Track's reopening, underscores the urgent need for investment in Cork's athletic infrastructure. As athletes and organisers navigate these turbulent times, the rallying cry for support grows louder, emphasising the crucial role of accessible and well-maintained facilities in nurturing the region's sporting talent.

Featured Image: Cork Athletics.

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