Golden opportunity to secure the future of Youghal greyhound stadium

Golden opportunity to secure the future of Youghal greyhound stadium
Action from the Youghal greyhound track in 2016. Picture: John Hennessy

YOUGHAL Greyhound Track has been offered a reprieve from proposed closure.

Before the Covid-19 restrictions brought all sport to a halt, a report from the Irish Greyhound Board earmarked Youghal as one of four stadiums that weren't economically viable. 

Despite operating since 1948, the report said Youghal was loss-making and had the lowest attendance of any venue in the west and south-west. 

Now along with the venue in Enniscorthy, Youghal will get the chance to revive their businesses, though Lifford and Longford won't re-open.

More than 350 greyhound followers travelled from near and far to a public meeting at the Youghal venue. Since then, the Youghal Track Supporters Club have done Trojan work in putting a submission together which has now led to this track saving meeting with IGB officials.

The following submissions were received by the IGB from representative bodies and public bodies during the consultation phase following the publication of the Indecon report. A number of submissions were also received from private individuals and public representatives.

As revealed in a statement by the IGB, there were three options for the board to take with regard to the Indecon report on these submissions:

They could implement the proposed restructuring as recommended in the original report;

They could provide an opportunity for Youghal and Enniscorthy for a fixed period of time to address challenges/issues identified and for key performances to be set;

They could decide not to implement the recommendations of the Indecon report.

Thankfully, for the sake of Youghal and Enniscorthy tracks, the IGB has opted for the second choice. It’s positive news for all concerned but there’s still a lot of hard work to be done. Amongst Youghal’s submissions to the original Indecon report were a voluntary reduction of €60 per race in prize money by owners, and an annual investment of €25,000 by the Youghal Track Supporters’ Club which would be in the shape of race sponsorship, the free gate, or to cover the cost of the yearly track lease.

Also included was the possibility of a merger of Youghal and Cork tracks — something which has been mooted for some time — “involving running three SIS nights in Youghal and Cork on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and IGB racing on Friday and Saturday, and estimating YTSC Lotto into Cork.”

Paidí Breathnach, chairman of Youghal Track Supporters’ Club, commented: “We got a bit of good news, that we’ve been given an opportunity to reassess our positions, to improve our finances, our attendances, our racing, and to literally put Youghal track back in a much better financially, going forward.

“We don’t know how much time we’re going to be given to do it, but the IGB could have taken the first option in the and implemented what Indecon had recommended and then where would we be?

“We have to look at this as a golden opportunity, and everybody needs to be singing off the one hymn sheet. We are going to get one chance and we have to do it right.

“There was a huge reaction from greyhound folk all around the country when news first came that the track could be closed. Everyone came together to show their support and we know we can look forward to that same support as we push to secure Youghal’s future.

“We are still afloat, are still fighting, and that’s the most important thing.”

While the lifeline has been given, and the board will be further considering the matter at its July 2020 meeting, this is where the real work starts for Youghal. They have a fantastic supporters club and they have never been found wanting in that department.

Local trainer Jake Faul added: “Youghal track being given the chance to remain open is massive for me. I’m lucky enough to live within five minutes and currently have nine in training. I hope Youghal track remains open long into the future as it’s a fantastic track full of greyhound lovers and friends.”

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