Merrion Fleet Arena cuts the ribbon at Rathdown

Rathdown and Monkstown’s Merrion Fleet Arena was formally opened to great fanfare and decent crowds last Sunday despite a heavy downpour of rain.

The new water-based pitch, a joint initiative between the school and club, incorporates a Greenfields TX carpet as used at the 2014 Hockey World Cup in Holland, Musco lighting and a 175 seat viewing stand.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, which was compered by broadcaster and local resident Pat Kenny, Patsy Ashe, Chairperson, Rathdown School Board of Governors, said: “We are delighted to see this ambitious project come to fruition.

“Building on the success of both our senior and junior hockey teams in recent years, we hope that the new facility will support the development and growth of hockey at Rathdown to the highest possible level. It will ensure that the girls have every opportunity to participate on a regular basis, to reach their full potential and ultimately to develop a sport for life.”

Trevor Watkins, President of Monkstown Hockey Club, added: “This is a milestone for our club; it has allowed us reduce our waiting lists for girls and boys, increase the number of senior teams and provides a great venue for EY Irish Hockey League matches.”

The new facility will also be used by local primary schools as well as hockey camps and potentially for training camps for representative teams.

The day saw youth games begin the day before Monkstown’s ladies team played Rathdown. Monkstown’s men nicked a 1-0 win over an Irish senior men’s selection with Richard Sykes getting the only goal.

The Irish women’s panel played a challenge match with a number of guests; Chloe Brown tapped in an Anna O’Flanagan cross for the only goal of the tie to close the festivities.

Rathdown and Monkstown were successful in their joint application for a Sports Capital Grant towards this project from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Monkstown, supported by the Leinster Hockey Association, also made a capital contribution.

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