By Noel Dundon
Thurles will today (Wednesday) be crowned European Town of Sport for 2012 when a delegation travels to Brussels to pick up the prestigious award.
Thurles Mayor, Cllr John kennedy will be joined by Town Clerk Mr Michael Ryan and Shannon Development’s Brian Keating at the reception in the EU nerve centre where the award will be handed over in recognition of Thurles’ major sporting achievements and facilities as documented in a presentation to the authorities some time ago. Thurles Town Manager Mr Matt Shortt was due to attend also, but was forced to cancel at the last minute due to a family bereavement.
Ireland South MEP, Sean Kelly, will host the delegation from Thurles alongside MEP, Phil Prendergast. The former GAA President is a member of the European Parliament’s key sports committee and sits on the steering committee of the European Parliament’s Friends of the European Capitals of Sport group.
“It is a fantastic result for Thurles to be awarded European Town of Sport for 2012. I have sent my congratulations to Thurles and look forward to meeting the local people who will travel to Brussels to officially receive the accolade,” Mr Kelly tolld The Tipperary Star.
“It is another major endorsement of European sport for Ireland South, following Limerick’s receipt of the title ‘European City of Sport, 2011’. Limerick made great use of its award this year, culminating with the finals of the European mens’ and ladies’ Gaelic Football finals on the 5th November last, which saw Limerick hotels full with over 500 people travelling from all over Europe on what is one of the quietest business weekends of the year. I have no doubt that Thurles will use its new sporting honour to its full advantage and host an excellent programme of events in 2012, which I look forward to attending,” he added.
The decision to award Thurles the title of ‘European Town of Sport, 2012’ was reached after a submission from Shannon Development, North Tipperary County Council, LIT Tipperary and North Tipperary Sports Partnership. Top local sporting venues were inspected by adjudicators as part of the decision process with the Ursuline Secondary School and Peake Villa also playing key roles.
Thurles success was also toasted at a meeting of North Tipperary County Council this week with members expressing a wish that it can be built upon in order to progress tourism initiatives - the Thurles Sarsfields led International Hurling Festival being an obvious example.
Cllrs Seamus Hanafin, Jim Ryan, Michael Lowry, John Hogan and John Kennedy were lavish in their praise for the submission which proved successful and said that the honour would be a major fillip to Thurles and North Tipperary in general.
Mayor Kennedy said that the reports description of “Thurles punching above it’s weight” in terms of sport, showed exactly how important sport and sport tourism is to the town. He congratulated everyone on their involvement in the submission and said that the key now is for the greater Thurles area to build upon this success and this recognition, especially with hillwalking being so popular internationally and the famous Upperchurch walks commanding such attention.