On the wrong track!

A number of local groups have expressed dismay following the unveiling of plans for a new €13 million iRos Sports Centre in Roscommon town.

Athletics club Roscommon Harriers, and a local lawn bowling group, say the plans for the new facility on Roscommon Convent grounds have neglected their members.

Chairperson of Roscommon Harriers, Frank Murphy, said local athletes were disappointed by the absence of a running track in the plans presented to members of Roscommon County Council by S3 Solutions Consultancy.

“We are surprised that a track isn’t included in the plans. We honestly thought it was a given that it would be part of the facility. We had been looking for our own facilities before the Council told us about the plans for a new centre,” he said.

Frank claims the club hadn’t been approached prior to the plans being made public.

“It might have been up online but nobody came to us to ask us for our input. At no time was I asked anyway,” he said.

The Roscommon Harriers boast both an adult and a juvenile club and Frank says the new development is a “huge opportunity” for the county town to develop its first athletics track.

“This is going to be a facility which is used by all the schools for P.E. and I would imagine running is part of that. Our adult club would have around 80 members while the juvenile club has around 100. There are also new clubs in Suck Valley and Lecarrow which are just fifteen minutes from here,” he said.

Frank said adult members currently train on the roads around Roscommon and that the absence of facilities made it difficult to retain juvenile athletes.

“We host a big event each year which brings a lot of people to Roscommon town (including international athletes) and we have a good number of people training on evenings throughout the week. But because we don’t have the proper facilities we can’t retain the younger talented athletes,” he said.

Frank said a review of the plans would allow for the development of a facility which would benefit young runners and aspiring athletes.

Meanwhile, a lawn bowling group, which meets three times a week at Hawthorn Drive, has also called for a review of the plans, calling for the Council to include a lawn bowling green at the centre.

Local lawn bowler Rosaleen McCourt said group members would be calling on Roscommon County Council to amend the current plans.

“We currently meet at the all-weather pitch in Hawthorn Drive three mornings a week but we have no facilities and nowhere to store our equipment,” Rosaleen said.

“We have approached Roscommon County Council in the past and Roscommon Sports Partnership and we received bowls from them.

“We believe a lawn bowling pitch should be included in the plan. There are very few activities for the over-50s in Roscommon and we hope to have a meeting with the Council to add our proposal”.

The lawn bowling group was established after an advertisement was placed in the Roscommon People and is proving popular with locals.

Recent recruit Mary Joyce said members enjoyed meeting up for games.

“I am really enjoying it. It’s a great laugh and it’s a way of socialising too,” she said.

Other members say the outdoor games were vital throughout lockdown and that facilities would enable the group to grow in number.

Addressing the current iRos Sports Centre plans, another member of the group, Mary Doyle, quoted from the Roscommon Age Friendly Strategy, which was published in 2016 by Roscommon County Council.

“If you design for the young, you exclude the old but, if you design for the old, you include everyone,” she concluded.