"IF we get another bad winter I fear more damage will force us to shut the stadium down.”
The frightening and worrying words from Neptune chairman Paul Barrett last weekend as he described the present dilemma his club are in with the present state of the roof that has been consistently refused Government funding for repair.
The Neptune chairman reflected on the problems with the damage to the roof that is seriously in danger of closing the stadium that will disappoint many young athletes in numerous sports.
“The problem with the roof stretches back over five years and after getting a consultation from engineers we have been told that it’s basically gone past its sell-by date,” said Paul Barrett.
“In a nutshell that was the information we were told and now five years on we are no further on in getting the problem rectified.”
Neptune were given a little hope three years ago when the Capital Sports Grants came on board.
“The news of the Sports Grants gave us a lift and at that stage, we started to apply for a considerable amount of funding but to our disappointment, we were unsuccessful in the first round that I wasn't surprised with.”
12 months on and Neptune put their case forward again.
“Last year was a body blow as we seemed to fallen through the cracks despite getting plenty of media attention but nobody in Government seems to understand what this stadium is doing for people in all parts of our city.”
The Neptune committee has now set their stall out for a third application and all eyes will be on how they are treated on this occasion.
“We have applied again and I think if we can secure the funding all it will do is secure the building for hopefully the next 25 years.”
The Neptune chairman believes their application is different to what most sports clubs apply for.
“With no disrespect to any other clubs but I think they are applying to enhance what they have already got or to develop something new like new dressing rooms and that’s alright too.
“For us, it’s about survival as the amount of water that has come through has already damaged the floor and to be honest I am dreading the next few months.”
As a basketball club Neptune are doing amazing work dealing with kids from six years old to Senior level but what the government fail to realise is the amount of Schools basketball that is played at this venue.
“In our submission, we proved what we do for various sports in sharing the venue with sports like Karate, Judo, dancing and indoor Soccer.
“We also have wheelchair basketball as well as various Irish teams training and the list goes on.
“If you had to put a count on the number of kids coming through our doors you would be talking about multiples of thousands.”
When Neptune were given the reason for the failure to secure funding last season the explanation was startling according to Barrett.
“They said we fell short by 2 points and that was despite getting 0 from 7 because of socioeconomic status which basically means that according to the Departments database supplied to them that Neptune was deemed to be in an affluent part of Cork City.”
That particular reason was deemed a joke by Mr Barrett.
“With no disrespect to the people of Blackpool but it’s certainly not an affluent part of our city as whoever is giving those stats are living in cuckoo land.”
When the Neptune club followed up with the Department of Sport they were told it went back to the census but with nobody residing in the stadium that reasoning was baffling.”
Mr Barrett is hoping that common sense prevails on this occasion with the latest application.
“I think we are deserving of this grant as we are self- funded and do not receive grants from any organisation and I think people in government and our local TD’s need to understand it’s a massive sporting infrastructure on Cork’s Northside.”
The total funding needed is 149,800 and all it will do is keep their stadium safe and make the future outlook brighter for many kids depending on it according to Barrett.
“We still have to run the stadium and nothing will change dramatically as we have many volunteers who give hours of work to many teams in our club.”
The Neptune case is 100% solid but what are the TD’s and politicians doing in this city to get this funding?
“We had Colm Burke up here at Christmas and ironically it was a wet day and he saw first- hand what damage this roof is doing to our floor.
“At the moment I am trying to get a meeting with the Minister for Sport to put the application under his nose as we are losing our patience.”
There is 6.5 million funding in the Regional Sports Grants and last year the entire amount went to Tralee IT.
“I couldn’t fathom this decision as Colleges and Institute of Technologies are businesses that receive money from the State hand over fist and for them to give the entire allocation to one project was an absolute disgrace.”
On a final note Paul Barrett has asked all politicians to get behind their application as the danger of Cork’s sporting stadium closing is now very much a reality.
“We need people with some bit of sway to represent us at the top level as since 1985 Neptune has been a great club in the manner we have helped many sports over the past 34 years.”