By Ronan Dodd
Thurles has scored across Europe by being named European Town of Sport 2012, making it the first town in Ireland to achieve this status
The announcement was made this Monday and comes following a visit to the town by the European Capitals and Cities of Sport Federation.
Thurles Mayor Cllr John Kennedy told the Tipperary Star that he welcomed the announcement by the federation’s president, Blane Dodds, and said it was was a major achievement for a town with a population of around 8,000.
“The benefits by being conferred with this status will help us to promote our town. It is now up to every sporting organisation, our schools, Shannon Development, the local authorities, Chamber of Commerce and all groups to pull together to embrace this magnificent achievement,” he said.
“With Thurles being the birthplace of the GAA, and recognised as having the second most important stadium in Ireland, this helped us achieve this. But I want to recognise the major work being done by all our sports clubs, our primary and secondary schools and our two third level colleges,” said the Mayor.
He paid tribute to Thurles Town Council, Tipperary Institute / LIT and Shannon Development for putting forward the application and for making Thurles the focal point for sports tourism.
“I look forward, as Mayor of Thurles, to working with all the bodies to help Thurles reach its potential and to build on this recognition by Europe. I also look forward to working with the European Capitals and Cities of Sports Federation in the future,” he said.
In a letter to the Mayor this Monday, Mr Dodds said that the inspection team was delighted to witness the huge range of sports offered to the people of Thurles.
“We also noted the important role played by volunteers in the delivery of sports for the community and it is fair to say that the people of Thurles should be delighted that they have such active citizens delivering for them,” wrote Mr Dodds.
He said that the facilities seen by the inspection team were “very impressive, particularly for a small town, and many a city would be proud to boast of such a portfolio. The history and links with the GAA in Thurles is tremendous and that fact that a 50,000 capacity stadium is here is testament to a long heritage of sporting tradition. To borrow and old sporting quote, Thurles does, indeed, punch above its weight.”
Mayor Kennedy will collect the award at a ceremony in Brussels on November 30.
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