MAKING PLANS Mayo GAA Board chairman Liam Moffatt is pictured at MacHale Park, Castlebar. Pic: Conor McKeown
THE pitch re-surfacing project at MacHale Park in Castlebar may be the primary infrastructure project being planned by Mayo GAA chiefs at the moment, but they haven’t ruled out developing a ‘Training Centre’ in the future.
The County Board are rolling out the ‘Laochra Mhaigh Eo’ fundraising project over the next two months in an effort to raise money to pay for the re-development of the MacHale Park pitch. The planned works are expected to cost in the region of €300,000.
However, Mayo GAA Board chairman, Liam Moffatt, has told The Mayo News that officials are ‘not ruling out any project in the future’ but that, ‘right here, right now, going on a County Board meeting we had last November, it was felt that this would be a prudent approach, given the times we’re living in.
“It’s not a cost on clubs. It will be paid for by the Laochra Mhaigh Eo initiative,” he added.
Twelve months ago, shortly before Covid-19 arrived in the country, Michael Diskin, the assistant treasurer of the County Board (who also heads up their infrastructure and facilities sub-committee) told club delegates that there were five options being explored in relation to developing infrastructure and facilities for the county’s football and hurling teams.
These included developing three pitches and dressing-rooms at Lough Lannagh in Castlebar to create a state-of-the-art Mayo GAA Training Centre (at a projected cost of over €4m); enhancing Mulvey Park in Castlebar; developing pitches in both the South Mayo and North Mayo regions; and resurfacing MacHale Park.
“At the start of 2020 I commissioned Michael Diskin to look at our infrastructure demands,” explained Liam Moffatt. “He did a very thorough review and he looked at five potential projects, one of which was the condition of the MacHale Park pitch and what was needed.
“If you talk to some of our coaches and players, they’re very proud of the pitch, but nobody would object to having a better playing surface.
“As we’ve stated a number of times, we’re not ruling out any project in the future.
“But right here, right now, going on a County Board meeting we had last November, it was felt that this would be a prudent approach, given the times we’re living in.
“But I’ll stress, it doesn’t rule out any previously mentioned projects happening in the future.
“Right now though, we just want to get this pitch as good as it can be to support our club and inter-county players. We’re at the point now where we’ll be bringing it to the next County Board meeting and will hopefully get the approval for that.”
Moffatt said that, when completed, the MacHale Park pitch should have a playing surface ‘comparable to Markievicz Park’ in Sligo and believes that the works will add to the ‘existing facilities’ in Castlebar.
He also set out the background to the project.
“The facilities and the dressing-rooms at MacHale Park are great, but there hasn’t been a significant investment in the pitch for over 20 years, there has been maintenance every year, but no dedicated project.
“When we set up the Cairde Mhaigh Eo sub-committee last year, one of the goals was that they became a think-tank for sustainable fund-raising ideas. A number of projects were put forward, and one of them was the Laochra Mhaigh Eo project.
“One of the goals of it is to revitalise the playing surface in MacHale Park.”
Moffatt also confirmed that the pitch re-surfacing works will begin after Mayo conclude their inter-county programme of matches in Castlebar this year.
He also admitted that it was ‘difficult to give a definitive start date for the work due to the current uncertainty over fixtures due to Covid-19’.