Flood defence plan could spell trouble for Limerick soccer club

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

The proposed flood defences could force Star Rovers FC to close down its schoolboy programme, its former chairman, Denis Ryan has warned

The proposed flood defences could force Star Rovers FC to close down its schoolboy programme, its former chairman, Denis Ryan has warned

THE former chairman of King’s Island’s main soccer club has warned it could face a bleak future if €56m flood defences go ahead as planned in Limerick city.

Denis Ryan, who remains on the committee at Star Rovers, is furious at Council bosses for proposing a series of flood defences which he says will see the club’s €200,000 astroturf pitch and training area removed.

At the moment, the pitch is used by around 250 schoolboys – the majority of Star Rovers’ membership.

Speaking in the King’s Island Community Centre, where plans for the flood defences were put on public display, Mr Ryan stressed schoolboy soccer forms the vast majority of what the club - founded in 1941 - does.

“We are basically a schoolboy club. Our main focus down here is providing assistance and facilities to these kids.

“If this bit of land is taken away from us, I think it means our schoolboy programme is finished,” he said.

For its part, the Council has offered to relocate Star Rovers’ astroturf pitch.

The local authority is planning to raise the land to provide a walkway around the Island Field, and to stop the river Shannon bursting its banks.

These plans will see Star Rovers affected, as the club’s pitch falls outside the proposed walkway near Assumpta Park.

“It’s ridiculous,” Mr Ryan said, “We need more land, not less. Monetary-wise, there would not be enough money to compensate us. We cannot have our schoolboys training on full-sized fields. We don’t want our kids playing in the mud.”

The astroturf was only opened in 2015 – after the flooding which dogged the area. Local Sinn Fein councillor John Costelloe has pledged to work with the Star Rovers committee.

“They are all volunteers. They cater for so many kids in the area. These flood plans are not the final solution by any means,” he said.

A Council spokesperson said they have held meetings with Star Rovers to “minimise the disruption.”