CORK could see a new cricket venue sooner rather than later, with the news, revealed exclusively to the Echo that Munster Cricket are looking to develop their own facility, the first of its kind in the province.
With just three pitches in Cork City - just one of which (the Mardyke) has a permanent grass wicket needed for playing games at the highest level - there’s a huge squeeze on resources, as the region continues to expand and strengthen the game on Leeside and elsewhere.
Munster now has its Reds flagship Inter-provincial side, the Heat development side, as well as representative teams down through the age groups, all jostling for position with Cork County’s four adult teams and youth training at the venue on the banks of the Lee.
The Mardyke is undoubtedly kept in great nick by its groundsman and current Munster Cricket treasurer Matt Reed, but the club is the only in the Union with the financial means to hire a full-time groundsman, with Cork Harlequins’ Joe O’Mahony doing trojan work on an amateur basis to create temporary grass wickets at Cork Harlequins on Farmer’s Cross.
However, the need for a new venue is absolutely imperative if the Union is to continue to grow, and Chairman David Griffin says they’re currently in early talks to establish a new venue.
“We’ve identified, particularly in Cork, that there’s a need for a pitch controlled by the union, which we could use for new teams to play.
“For example, there’s a team up in running in the Direct Provision Centre on the Kinsale Road and they need a venue, or if we want to develop women’s cricket or social cricket there’s a need for a space.
“We’re at very early stages with this but we are engaging with Cork City Council and Cork County Council to see if there’s any option to get a space where we could put in an artificial pitch and get that up and running.
“Then longer term we want to develop that into a cricket facility for the Union to use, but it’s very early stages and nothing definite we can announce at the moment, but hopefully in the next few months we can make progress on this.”
The question lingers however about financing, with money still tight from Cricket Ireland, whose own financial difficulties from problems with ICC funding have been highlighted in the past few months, but Griffin is confident they can get the project over the line.
“One of the advantages of operating as a company is we have better access to council and Sports Capital grants as the Union, and that’s where we’ll be looking for funding if we were to develop a facility somewhere."