Punchestown, Thursday, April 24th Roscommon GAA County Board Race Day

Roscommon GAA County Board Race Day takes place on Thursday, April 24th as part of the Punchestown Festival of National Hunt Racing.   The Punchestown racing festival has become the principal National Hunt event in Ireland in recent years and its popularity attracts huge attendances each day during the festival.   The idea for a race day organised by Roscommon County Board came from the need to establish new revenue streams to promote gaelic games in the county.  Prior to this, Roscommon County Board relied heavily on traditional sources of income including gate receipts, grants and revenue from the National Football League.   However, due to increasing expenditure needed to fund the various activities that the Board is involved in additional revenue streams were required. The race day idea, as a fundraising exercise, came from looking at how counties, GAA clubs and other organisations have used the idea to raise funds.   The County Board approached a number of people locally who, while not involved directly in the GAA, are committed Roscommon GAA supporters and are also interested in racing. This group of people have driven this project forward.   Last year the race day raised €100,000. This funding has been set aside for the purpose of developing a county training base for all county teams, both hurling and football, and development squads.   In recent years, more and more counties have invested heavily in the development of purpose-built training facilities. These facilities consist of a number of all-weather flood-lit pitches, changing rooms, treatment rooms, weight rooms, dining hall and meeting rooms.     Access to such a facility would enable county teams to train without interfering with club facilities and allow all county teams have the use of top class facilities when they require it. Counties that have successfully developed these types of facilities in the past three years include Galway, Monaghan and Meath while a number of other counties including Kerry are currently putting in place similar facilities.   A second objective of this fundraising exercise is to earmark funding for Dr. Hyde Park. The County Board are well aware of the need to develop Dr. Hyde Park into a compact, modern stadium capable of meeting the demands for greater comfort and facilities at matches.   Nationally, the GAA is in the process of identifying venues at Provincial level which are capable of coping with Provincial finals and other championship and league games which attract large attendances.   Given the central location of Roscommon, it is important to the county that Hyde Park receives adequate funding from central funding to upgrade the stadium. It is necessary for the County Board, in co-operation with the Hyde Park Committee, to ensure that there is the necessary local funding in place to support Roscommon’s bid for inclusion as a premier Provincial stadium.   Roscommon County Board hope that Race Day 2008 will be as successful as Race Day 2007. In 2007 over 1,000 people attended the event. Hopefully that figure will be exceeded in 2008 with a target attendance of 1100 having been set.    Among the guests attending this year’s event is Christy Cooney, President-elect of the GAA.    Masters of Ceremonies will be Seamus Duke, Sports Editor, Roscommon People.    The format of the day will be similar to that of 2007.