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Connacht GAA receives €2.1m for ‘Air Dome’


NO LONGER OUT IN THE COLD  Headwear is compulsory for many games during a west of Ireland winter at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan. Plans for a full-size indoor pitch might make conditions more favourable for players and supporters alike.  Pic: Sportsfile

Edwin McGreal

A full sized GAA field will be the central feature in a planned ‘Air Dome’ at the Connacht GAA’s Centre of Excellence at Bekan in east Mayo.
The proposed ‘Air Dome’ received a significant shot in the arm with the announcement last week that they received €2.1 million in funding for the facility from the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Minister Michael Ring made the announcement and Connacht GAA detailed how the funding will be spent.
It will go towards the development of the new 150 metre by 100 metre Air Dome. The dome will have a heighth of 26 metres and will include a full size GAA field, a gym with testing area and office space.
Connacht GAA say the dome will provide year round indoor facilities which they say will ensure the continued focus on sport as a cornerstone of rural communities. They go on to say the facility will be fully available for community use and open to other sports.
“I would like to thank Minister Ring for the major boost he has today provided to the Connacht Council, which will be a massive addition to the already state of the art facility at the Connacht GAA Centre at Cloonacurry, Bekan,” said Connacht GAA Secretary, John Prenty.
“The new development will be a huge benefit to everyone involved with Connacht GAA and also to the wider community in general. We look forward to our partnership with Sligo Leader Partnership CLG and aim to have our new facility open when we host Féile Peil na nÓg here in June 2019.”
Connacht GAA were among the first successful applicants for the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund announced at a ceremony in Sligo attended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Local Fine Gael Cllr John Cribben also welcomed the announcement.
“This dome will provide year round indoor facilities to ensure the continued focus on sports as a cornerstone of our community. The facility, once completed, will be fully available for community use and open to other sports.  
“I have worked hard in order to help ensure the success of this application and I am delighted to see it come to fruition. It will stand to our sports people for years to come,” he said.
The Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence has been used by many club and county teams throughout Connacht since it was officially opened in 2012. It currently contains six full size pitches, one of which is an all-weather, artificial surface. It also has a large indoor centre with gym facilities, changing rooms and meeting rooms.