A proud day as Connacht looks for Excellence

November 8, 2018

Courtesy of the Western People

A proud day as Connacht looks for Excellence

   FRIDAY last in Ballyhaunis was all about gazing into the future. The vast tract of clay and stone in Bekan will soon be transformed into a GAA wonderland. Pristine all-weather playing pitches and the very best of training facilities will soon be created in the East-Mayo heartland.


      The great and the good from every corner of Connacht and beyond came to the construction site to see GAA President, Christy Cooney turn the sod on the historic project, the province’s new €10m Centre of Excellence Paddy Naughton, Connacht Council President left nobody in any doubt about the benefits the new centre will bring to the province. “It’s the ideal location and within easy striking distance of numerous clubs and colleges. The big winners will be the youth of our province. We’re making a statement in these reversionary times that we’re a vibrant and future-thinking organisation. “This centre is also the ideal location for any of the 32 counties to use and it will be much better than any facilities outside this country which are available to teams. ‘The centre will be available to schools and clubs for games, which is one of the most important elements of the development Currently, all pitches are under pressure due to the climate in the west. ‘Having this facility will alleviate the pressure on club pitches when schools, colleges and clubs are all looing for venues for matches. It will also help with development squads in each county, as they will have a top-class facility at their disposal all year round,’ Naughton added.


   These sentiments were repeated by Christy Cooney when he addressed the large gathering and he was loud in his praise for the impressive project. “This is a visionary project and a model of best practice. It’s important that we in the GAA put our money where our mouth is – we don’t waste time talking about it, we do it. Today is only the beginning. We’ll reap from what we sow today. We are leaders of the community don’t ever forget that,’ he continued “This is a hugely significant day in the history of the GAA in Connacht. It will be the first provincial Centre of Excellence in the country, which is a real feather in Connacht’s cap,” said Cooney. “This will be a Centre of Excellence that Connacht can be proud of, and it will serve players, officials and supporters for many years to come. Money generated by the rental of Croke Park was ring-fenced for projects such as this and I wish everyone involved with this development every success.” Now all sights are set on 2014, when it is planned to have the centre fully up and running.

   In recent years, the council purchased the 65-acre site at Cloonacurry, Bekan – on the Knock-Ballyhaunis road – and work is already underway.. The centre will feature six floodlit outdoor GAA pitches, a state-of-the-art indoor pitch, gymnasium, and related facilities. There will also be dining facilities, meeting rooms, hurling wall, cross-country pathway, handball alley, eight dressingrooms, referees’ room, equipment room, and physio and rehab rooms.

   The centre will act as a venue to test all county, club and school teams, as well as providing physical and cardiac screening for players. A research and development facility will be provided to further research into the physiological demands on GAA players. Handball and Rounders will also be catered for at the broadly-based venue. The council’s offices – currently located in nearby Ballyhaunis – will also be re-located to the venue.