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Mayo training centre back on the agenda

Sport

DISCUSSION Outgoing Mayo GAA Board chairman Liam Moffatt raised the issue of the Mayo GAA Training Centre at a recent County Board meeting. Pic: Sportsfile

Mike Finnerty

THE decision not to proceed with a Mayo GAA Training Centre at a site in Lough Lannagh may have been taken in October, but the debate about ‘what happens next’ began at the recent meeting of the County Board.
The matter was discussed for more than 35 minutes by around 16 different speakers after Mayo GAA chairman, Liam Moffatt, said that he wanted to ‘open up a discussion’ about the subject.
Moffatt began by telling club delegates that there were a number of questions they needed to consider: “Are we going to take an evidence-based approach? What are the needs for a training facility? What is the volume of inter-county training sessions? What is the number of Mayo GAA club games played? How do Mayo benchmark against other counties?
“We need to have criteria, and we need to have the conversation in a holistic sense,” he added. “Is there commercial opportunities with a training centre? Like naming rights?
How about the one-club model? How does that incorporate?
“Who maintains the pitches? Who has access to them?”
“The big thing for me is, ‘what are our requirements in terms of a training centre?’” said Mayo Gaels delegate, Dermot Flaherty.
“I think that has to be established from the start. Why is there a need for this? Why are we doing this? To spec it out and say that this our requirement for our inter-county teams, schools for the one-club model. That’s a good starting point.
“Once we have that, we can start to plan. We should think big on it, go for the big option, and we can always scale it down.”
Brian O’Malley then told the meeting that because the South Mayo Board ‘don’t have a base’ they were looking at forming a partnership with a secondary school in their catchment area to utilise pitches that ‘sit idle all summer long’.
He also said that a club in the South had ‘offered us a second pitch’.
“The options are in the county there to go around to the regions and develop pitches at very little cost,” said the divisional secretary.
Declan Casey, on behalf of Charlestown Sarsfields, suggested that ‘the County Board make a grant available to one club in each division for ground upgrades’, with an emphasis on installing floodlights for night-time games.
“The pitch could be made available to County Board for an agreed number of hours and allow Academy teams to move around the county,” he added.
“Who maintains those pitches? Who has access to them? Is it a second pitch for a club? Who is involved in the cleaning of dressing-rooms and cutting of the pitch?” asked Ronan Kirrane, Mayo GAA assistant secretary.
“The question we need to ask is, who has access to the pitches?”
“We need to establish what we’re looking for, who is going to use them, and where they are going to be located?” said Kevin McDonnell from Kilmaine. “They are the first questions to be asked, I believe.”
Con Moynihan, Mayo GAA vice-chairman, said he believed that ‘it’s more training facilities that are required for [Mayo] Academy teams right up to seniors’.
“We have the Centre of Excellence [in East Mayo] and we can’t afford three more, that’s the first item on the agenda. And I don’t believe that we need threew more in the three other divisions.
“We have to have it costed and have the funding in place before we do anything.
“We have one burden and we don’t want another one,” he added in reference to the MacHale Park loan repayments.
“It’s something we have to look at in greater detail, possibly in smaller groups, at some stage in the near-future and have something concrete by the middle of next year.”

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