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Closure threat for Derry track; Irish View.

Byline: MICHAEL FORTUNE

WHILE the Northern Ireland economy appears to be on the verge of a massive upward turnabout, greyhound sport in the area is going in the opposite direction.

Closure has been the name of game as far as tracks in Northern Ireland have been concerned over the past twenty years. First to go was Celtic Park, followed by the second Belfast track Dunmore, then Dungannon and finally Ballyskeagh.

For the past year and more Northern Ireland owners and trainers have had to rely on Lifford, Dundalk and even the Dublin tracks for their racing opportunities, and the numbers of northern-owned greyhounds have been dwindling.

But worse news was in the air this week with the threat of closure of Derry track. The Brandywell circuit may be the poor relation of the Irish greyhound stadia, but it more than serves a purpose and has launched the likes of Farloe Melody and many a famed 'Farloe' on to the racing scene.

The Brandywell is set for a major redevelopment as a sporting site, mainly as home of Premier Irish soccer club Derry City, but it would appear that greyhound racing does not fit in with their plans.

That said, Derry City Council, who actually own the site, have refused as yet to give the go-ahead and will be speaking with all parties, including the track personnel. Perhaps there is hope yet that racing can be saved in the city of Derry.

On a positive note, work is currently in progress at the former Ballyskeagh site outside Lisburn, where a consortium plans to reopen it as Drumbo Park. They have very ambitious plans and they will certainly have the support of the vast Northern Ireland greyhound community.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 4, 2007
Words:286
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