Mayo GAA plans five-pitch Centre of Excellence

Posted in Connect on February 28, 2017.


Mayo County Board is planning to develop a new GAA centre of excellence on a greenfield site at Craggagh, between Kiltimagh and Balla. When completed, the facility will include five playing pitches, as well as clubhouses and ancillary services. Officials from the County Board will sit down with Croke Park delegates within the next two weeks to discuss the proposal, which is “vital” for the future of football and hurling in Mayo”, according to Mike Connelly, chairman of the County Board.

Mr Connelly told the Western People that Mayo has only “a pitch and a half” for all its development squads and inter county football and hurling teams to train on. “In MacHale Park, we have one pitch that’s not full size and one full-size pitch and we are supposed to give 250 hours to Castlebar Mitchels. They are entitled to that but it’s not always available. We’re under major pressure,” Mr Connolly explained. “At the end of the day we’re trying to get facilities for county managers at senior, U21, and other levels in hurling and football. They are looking for pitches on a regular basis, two nights a week.

“The one thing that saved us this year was the good weather with little rain in January or February and we get into the Connacht Centre of Excellence [in Bekan] when we can but that’s filled up with colleges and other games. The only way we will have comfort going forward is if we have our own centre and let it be the head office of GAA in Mayo.” Mr Connelly pointed out that Leitrim and Sligo have their own centres of excellence and Galway has in the region of 11 pitches to work with.

“We have invested in coaching and the next step is to have the facilities to make sure we can deliver,” he said. The proposed centre, on a large strip of land on the Balla side of Craggagh National School, will “support every club” with five pitches, state-ofthe-art dressing rooms, meeting rooms and a kitchen. Mr Connelly said there had been no discussion on other extras but it is unlikely to be on the same scale as the Connacht Centre of Excellence.

The chairman revealed that the County Board has a number of hurdles to overcome, including approval from Croke Park and the planning authorities, before fur ther plans can be made. There will also be local consultation but it appears the Co Board is committed to the Craggagh site, with one source describing it as “ideal”. “It’s close to Balla in West Mayo, Claremorris in South Mayo and Kiltimagh in East Mayo and it’s easy for players travelling from other parts of the country to get to,” said the source.

Mr Connelly would not be drawn on the estimated cost of the project but, because of the debt associated with MacHale Park, it’s expected a huge fundraising drive will have to be undertaken in the county. The facility is likely to cost several million euro. If it gets the go-ahead, the Craggagh project could have a three-year time frame to allow for site clearance, ground settlement and construction of pitches.

Western People – 27th February 2017

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