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Ambitious Westport United development officially underway


Ambitious Westport United development officially under way

Neill O’Neill

THE game has begun for Westport United, with the sod now officially turned on their new state-of the-art training and playing facility.
Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, Cllr Ollie Gannon, was on hand to perform the official duty on St Patrick’s weekend, as the much-anticipated new home for the oldest football club in Connacht inched one step closer to existence.
The development has long been in the making, and will be completed in phases. In total it will cost €2.8 million, and is being part-funded by weekly contributions from over 300 members of the local community, with other generous contributions from Westport Town Council, along with funding from central Government, through a Sports Capital Grant from the office of local Minister, Michael Ring.
Set on a 13.5 acre site on the grounds of Westport House at The Demense/Golf Course Road, and designed by local architect Michael Horan of AXO Architects, the plan incorporates two international standard soccer pitches (110 meters long by 64 meters wide), one pitch up to Mayo/Connacht League standard (93 meters long by 53 meters wide) a large all-weather (astroturf) facility, a training area, a smaller pitch specifically for their U-8, U-10 and U-12 teams, a clubhouse and spectator stand with a 1,000 person capacity, six changing rooms, fitness/training room, merchandise room, referees rooms, a committee room, storage areas and other facilities, along with a bus parking and turning area and car spaces for 100 vehicles.
The project will be implemented in stages, and while no estimate on a final completion date is available, phase one (purchase of the land and development of two international standard soccer pitches and some changing rooms), which will cost in the region of €850,000, is now officially under way.
Shovel in hand as he prepared for his civic duty, Cllr Ollie Gannon said that as Cathaoirleach of Westport Town Council, it was a great honour and privilege for him to be asked to officially turn the sod on the project.
Acknowledging the presence of Tom Tarmey, Chairman of Westport United Football Club, and his committee; Kevin Cusack, Chairman of the Development Committee; members of the project’s Finance Committee, Westport Town Manager, Martin Keating and other delegates, dignitaries, members of the clergy and Westport United stalwarts, he referred to the sod turning as a historic occasion in the life of Westport United.
“The turning of the sod on this new facility marks the commencement of a bright future for the club and for future generations to come,” he said. “We live in challenging economic times when the raising of funds can prove difficult. Despite this I know that Kevin Cusack and his hard-working finance committee are determined to see this project completed in full. I would like to avail of this opportunity to appeal to the wider community in Westport to continue to support this project. On completion it will be a great legacy to future generations and one we all can be very proud of.”
Councillor Gannon also thanked Minister Michael Ring, whose Department allocated €200,000 to the project last year, along with his colleagues on Westport Town Council, and the council management, who give it €100,000, and whom Cllr Gannon said, were determined to assist the project all the way.