MAYO GAA’s plans to build a state-of-the-art Training Centre in Castlebar will ‘not in any way cost clubs anything’, according to County Board chairman, Mike Connelly.
Speaking at last Thursday night’s monthly meeting of the Board in MacHale Park, hours after Mayo County Council released a statement confirming a ‘collaborative partnership’ with Mayo GAA for the acquisition of 27 acres of land at Lough Lannagh in Castlebar, Connelly reassured delegates that funding for the development will be sought elsewhere.
“We want to make this very clear, that this will not in any way cost clubs anything,” he said. “It will be a separate project that will be ran with several groups of people that the board will be in control of. We have looked at the financial situation, and how this is going to be done, and we have a lot of plans.
“We have been talking about it to people, there’s a lot of areas where we’ll be looking for funding, whether it’s the government or Croke Park to support us.”
Connelly told the delegates that this plan has been in the pipeline for the past two years and that the original site planned for just outside Balla, ‘didn’t work out for a number of reasons’.
He said that following on from discussions with Mayo County Council regarding the failed Rugby World Cup bid, negotiations opened for the current site on the grounds of Lough Lannagh.
“It’s a facility badly needed for Mayo,” Connelly said. “Anyone involved with inter-county teams and development squads, it’s [pitches] a huge problem for us.
“Our senior team trained in the Leitrim Training Centre, Mullingar and Athlone and the amount of add-on expense is quite sizeable. To manage it is even more difficult. It’s hugely important that we develop our own training centre so we can take all that hassle from the people who will be running Mayo GAA affairs in the coming years.”
A NUMBER of concerns regarding the ownership of Mayo GAA’s portion of the 27-acre site were raised by club delegates, with Johnny O’Malley from Ardnaree enquiring about Mayo County Council’s part in the project.
“It is to do with the further development of the council’s [plans] with the area itself,” Connelly said. “They will further develop that and this is part of that. They’re developing theirs and we’re developing ours. Our piece will be strictly Mayo GAA.”
Jim O’Shea from Breaffy noted that ‘anything that adds to the available facilities for Mayo GAA needs to be lauded’, but questioned the need to have a similar facility so close to MacHale Park. He also requesting more detail about the project.
“It’s very much in it’s infancy in what we’re going to do,” Connelly said. “I didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves tonight in regards to the plans and what we’re going to do.
“At the end of the day, there’s no point in building the Taj Mahal. I think what we do need is a facility that can cater to our needs.”
Handball delegate, Michael Herat,y asked whether all sports will be catered for and if a handball alley is in the plans. Connelly highlighted that with the extra pitches being built, ‘One thing we will be able to do is give support to the [Mayo] ladies’. However, he said that there no plans for a handball alley before adding ‘it’s something we can have a look at’.
Connelly also revealed that the date of completion for the training centre project is ‘probably between 18 months to three years’.