AN ‘agreement in principle’ between Mayo GAA and Mayo County Council, dating back to 2018, to purchase 27 acres at Lough Lannagh in Castlebar and develop a €4m Centre of Excellence looks set to be scrapped.
Last week’s meeting of the County Board was told that ‘new information’ had come to light concerning a range of issues with the proposed site — including flood risks, environmental and ecological issues, the possibility of significant amounts of ‘fill’ being required and a potential archaeological site of interest.
Mayo GAA Board chairman, Liam Moffatt, told club delegates that these issues had come to light after Mayo County Council officials had carried out a ‘technical and environment analysis of the site’.
As a result of these issues being discovered, initial plans to build four pitches would have to be scaled back to just two pitches, which would be 300m apart due to ‘an area of environmental or ecological value’ being in the middle of the land that was earmarked for the project.
Mayo GAA officials were made aware of this new information in recent weeks, according to Moffatt, who gave a detailed presentation to club delegates last Thursday night.
He also posed a question for them to ‘bring back to their clubs for consideration’.
“Does this project meet the needs of Mayo GAA?”
“The key question clubs have to answer is, ‘Does this project, with the two pitches, does it meet the long-term requirements of Mayo County Board?” commented Michael Diskin, Mayo GAA’s assistant treasurer. “If the answer to that is, ’Yes, it does’ then I think there are a whole series of questions to be asked and costings that needs to be done.”
“Yes, we do need a Centre of Excellence but where it’s built is the big question,” remarked Dermot Butler, Mayo GAA’s secretary. “Is ploughing over €4m into Lough Lannagh for two pitches viable? That’s the question.
“Two pitches in a training centre is not sustainable,” he added. “What you need is something similar to what they have in Tyrone or Kerry where you have the dressing-rooms in the middle and five or six pitches around.”
Dermot Flaherty of Mayo Gaels, who was one of a number of delegates to speak on the topic, asked, ‘Realisitically is this project dead in the water? Because it’s not going to meet our needs in terms of a training centre. And what’s the plan to pay for a Centre of Excellence? We need to be realistic about it.”
“Mayo GAA has significant overheads with the [MacHale Park] stadium debt and also the servicing of inter-county teams, so there are considerable overheads all the time,” replied Liam Moffatt.
“With those levels of overheads, you’d have to be very, very careful about further exposures.
“The vision of this project is great, a sporting village, but does that vision match the needs of Mayo GAA?
“What we’re doing here is we’re asking delegates to bring this information back to your clubs to discuss and review.
“Consider it in terms of the suitability for Mayo GAA, and also bear in mind that the ‘one club’ model [where Gaelic football, ladies football, hurling, camogie, handball and rounders all come under the one GAA umbrella] is in situ and will be moving on.
“We will receive your feedback at the next Co Board meeting.”