Soccer: Campaign to save Stadium is finding its voice

by Gazette Reporter
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Jonny Stapleton

The ‘Save Tolka Park’ campaign say they have hit a ‘pivotal point’ and need those who support the historic stadium’s survival to find their voice. 

The famous Dublin City ground with a proud legacy is under threat. Dublin City Council are attempting to rezone the land from Z9 to Z10, which allows for mixed-use development, including residential.

The plan would be to sell the space to private developers to help fund the redevelopment of Dalymount Park and thus have Shelbourne and Bohemians play out of Phibsborough.

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It’s not a plan that sits well with Shelbourne supporters, the people of Drumcondra or the Irish sporting family in general.

“Once it’s gone it’s gone,” Shane Dawson of the ‘Save Tolka Park’ campaign told the Dublin Gazette. 

“You can never get it back. You lose all that history and you lose the chance to make more history. It would be cultural vandalism and all for the sake of ill planning. We can’t let ill planning win out.”

The historic element is an important heartstring tugger but there is also a community side to the campaign too. 

Local resident groups and local sports clubs, including football sides like Drumcondra FC and Marino, want to see the stadium, that lived up to its history making antics as recent as last month when it hosted the first televised Women’s National League match, survive.

Indeed, those behind the campaign have shared detailed plans to make Tolka a real sporting hub for the area and a facility that many can benefit from for years to come.

30 April 2021; A Save Tolka Park sticker outside the ground before the SSE Airtricity League First Division match between Shelbourne and Treaty United at Tolka Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

“The stadium can become a real beckon of Irish sport and real hub for the area. 

“It can serve the entire community and play a part in increasing participation in sport. 

“It can serve the community now and in the future. We need to save it for future generations,” added Dawson.

To ensure Tolka Park remains a place that serves future generations the campaign have called for support. 

They have asked the Minister of Sport to fund the Dalymount rebuild without having to sacrifice its fellow Northside venue but need supporters to play a more immediate part.

The rejection of rezoning plans in early November only proved a stay of execution.  Council management have since signaled their intentions to rezone the land through an extraordinary vote. In reaction, ‘Save Tolka Park’ are calling for supporters to make individual submission to the DCC with regard to Draft Development plan.

“We have hit a pivotal stage of the campaign,” Dawson explains. “We are calling on people to make an individual submission to the DCC and to object to rezoning. 

An aerial view of Tolka Park, home of Shelbourne Football Club, in Drumcondra, Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

“It’s paramount we get as many people to do so as possible. It might sound a bit daunting but it’s a simple process and one the Save Tolka Park website can walk you through. 

“I can’t really emphasize enough how important this stage is for the survival of Tolka Park and making sure one stadium is not sacrificed to fund another.”

Shelbourne supporters display a ‘Save Tolka Park’ banner before the SSE Airtricity League First Division match against UCD at Tolka Park in October.
Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

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