ON THE MIC Charlestown GAA club chairman Liam Breheny is pictured asking a question during Sunday’s Mayo GAA Convention. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
PURCHASING the land at Lough Lannagh in Castlebar for the proposed Mayo GAA Training Centre cost the County Board ‘€290,000 to €300,000’, according to outgoing County Board chairman Mike Connelly.
Describing the project as ‘a no brainer’ due to the existing facilities in Lough Lannagh, and the proximity of the site to MacHale Park, Connelly also told last Sunday’s County Convention that ‘the initial plan’ is to build three training pitches with floodlights which is expected to cost Mayo GAA in the region of €1.2m.
Connelly was responding to an enquiry from the incoming Mayo GAA Treasurer, Valerie Murphy from Charlestown, who asked how much it had cost to purchase the land at Lough Lannagh.
“The cost of the land itself would be roughly €290,000 to €300,000,” he replied.
“The cost of a training pitch with lights is around €400,000 so we’re looking at €1.2m [to build three pitches]. That’s our initial plan, the first step, to fundraise that first piece.
“It has the other facilities down there, it’s so close to MacHale Park that it’s a no-brainer really.”
Charlestown GAA club chairman, Liam Breheny, also questioned the wisdom of ‘leaping into’ the Training Centre development considering that Mayo GAA are showing €57,256 in their ‘cash flow statement’ in this year’s annual accounts.
“How are we going to pay for it?’ he asked.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” replied outgoing Mayo GAA treasurer, Kevin O’Toole. “We met Croke Park last year and we put a proposal to them where we had verbal agreement with three separate groups. . One was sponsors in Ireland for €250,000; one was with businessmen in London for €250,000; and one was from New York for €250,000.
“We were also going to have a function in New York which was supposed to raise in excess of €250,000 which would bring our funds available to €1m.
“We approached Croke Park to match that because every county that has built a Centre of Excellence has got that figure of money from Croke Park in grants.
“That €2m was to get the pitches up and running, at that stage we weren’t worried about infrastructure, there’s infrastructure down there.
“What we need, and clubs need, at the moment is pitches.
“The funding from London and the sponsors in Ireland still stands; New York put their money into the Foundation; and the nett [amount] that we raised at the end of the day from the function in New York was €3,000. That’s what it boils down to in the end.
“So as regards our ability to pay for it, we have commitments.
“Now before any work is completed those commitments have to be put on paper, and that’s what we intended to do. But it went in a different direction last January and February.”
Billy Heffron of Moygownagh GAA club also asked the treasurer to explain the reasons behind an increase of €500,000 in preparing the Mayo senior football team for 2019.
“It cost almost €150,000 for the New York game,” said Kevin O’Toole.
“One of the reasons was that a decision was made to hold a training camp out there and that meant rather than bringing 26 players and limited backroom and officials, we had to move lock, stock and barrel to New York to have our training camp compared to other years.
“In comparison to 2018 when we got knocked out by Kildare in Newbridge [in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers], we qualified for the Super 8s, played two matches away in the Super 8s, and played in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“That would have contributed to the vast bulk of the increase for the senior team.”