At the launch of a new fundraising drive at the Abbey Vocational School in Donegal town this week, the large crowd present were told that the school had over 400 active players, yet had no pitch to play on due to constant waterlogging.
Eamonn Griffin told the assembled crowd they had a wealth of talent in many disciplines - GAA, Soccer and Rugby - but were dependant on local clubs for facilities. He said this was not just peculiar to the present year, but was an annual problem.
The principal of the school Geraldine Diver, who launched the new fundraising drive with Mayor Pauric Kennedy and Mary Coughlan, highlighted the recent accomplishments - a state of the art gym with rowing machines in association with the Donegal Rowing club, defibrillator, new changing rooms and the mapping of defibrillators in the south of the county.
She paid tribute to all who had assisted in making those facilities become a reality - the businesses, the local community, the ETB and everybody who had given of their time voluntarily.
Geraldine added: “The facilities that we have enhanced and refurbished were very much warranted and are now enjoying a tremendous usage, not only by the students, but by the local community.
“Have a look upstairs and you will find a room full of people on the rowing and various exercise machines. We have great track facilities which all enjoy great usage from athletes from all over the south of the county.”
“A football pitch is not a luxury it is a must for our students who are depending on the generosity of local clubs. This is now becoming a problem as many of their pitches are waterlogged.
“Our goal is to get all our students active.”
Stressing the importance of sport at school, former Donegal GAA star Karl Lacey spoke candidly, “I’m afraid I was not an academic. Only for sport God knows where I would have ended up. I could well be just another statistical drop out.
“If these facilities are not replaced my fear would be that there would be a huge dropout from mainstream education.
“It is something that must be addressed.”