‘All we have is a shipping container and some lights’
Members of Tallaght Rugby Club Martina Fitzpatrick, Steve Heaney and Niall Mahon at the playing pitches in Dodder Valley Park

‘All we have is a shipping container and some lights’

TALLAGHT Rugby Club may have to leave the area if they can’t secure a site in Tallaght to train in and develop facilities, according to club chairman Niall Mahon.

The club, now with a membership of 250, has been growing consistently in recent years but has struggled to get facilities to match – and they claim they receive less support from South Dublin County Council compared to local GAA and soccer clubs.

Tallaght Rugby Club previously rented two pitches from South Dublin County Council, one in Tymon Park for matches and another in Dodder Valley Park, Firhouse, for training, but an apparent breakdown in communication between the council and the club has hampered their use of the pitches.

According to South Dublin County Council, they have contacted the club “numerous” times about applying for the use of the two pitches but to no avail.

They advised the club to submit their application for the pitches “as a matter of urgency”.

However, Mr Mahon said that the club encountered technical difficulties with the application process and informed the council of this several months ago but received no assistance or response, leading to a stalemate between the club and the council.

The frustration in the club about this has been compounded by a lack of facilities, with Mr Mahon adding that there is a perception that local GAA and soccer clubs are prioritised by the council for facilities.

“We can’t get any support from the council,” claimed Mr Mahon.

“Every time they build a sports pavilion or a pitch, they go to GAA and soccer teams.

“We have 250 members and we don’t even have toilets or running water. All we have is a shipping container and some lights.

“We’re doing everything we can to put the club in a really good position, but the fact is we have 100 kids going in for training at the weekend and we don’t have anywhere for them to wash their hands or go to the toilet.

“It’s a joke.”

When contacted by The Echo, a council spokesperson said the council has offered “assistance where required” to the club.

“South Dublin County Council has over 165 playing pitches which cater for various sporting clubs such as Gaelic football, camogie, hurling, rugby, soccer, cricket, rounders, softball and athletics etc serving over 1,000 teams,” the spokesperson stated.

“SDCC’s pavilion programme is designed to provide much-needed changing facilities at parks around the county.

The pavilions are not designed for a specific sport or club and are multi-use and multi-sport.”

Last year, Tallaght Rugby Club started a campaign for a ‘forever home’ so they could secure a space to “call their own” after ongoing issues with anti-social behaviour at the two pitches, and to remedy the persistent lack of club facilities.

At the time of going to print, Tallaght Rugby Club raised over €39,000 but this presented another issue – a lack of affordable sites within Tallaght for them to develop for the club’s future.

As a result of this, the club might have to reluctantly leave Tallaght if they can’t find suitable land or a long-term lease from the council for a site in the area.

“I’ve already looked at land in Rathcoole,” said Mr Mahon.

“Unless the council can give us a long-term lease on a bit of land, to support a club that’s supporting the community in Tallaght, then we’ll have to move further afield.

“Rugby is the third most-played sport in Ireland, but in one of the biggest suburbs in the country there’s a rugby team that doesn’t have any resources.”

In regards to the IRFU, which set up the club as part of an initiative to develop the sport in ‘non-traditional’ areas, Mr Mahon said the club was informed that the IRFU “can’t help” the club until they’ve secured their own site.

The spokesperson for South Dublin County Council added: “Staff from the Public Realm section have met with Tallaght Rugby Club multiple times over the last number of years to discuss their requirements and other issues and will continue to do so when requested.”

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