Centre of Excellence on track as GAA appeal for support

Leitrim GAA chief have made a renewed appeal to the county’s fans to row in behind this year’s Leitrim Supporters Club draw after they revealed that the county’s teams will be using the new Centre of Excellence from September 2012.

Leitrim GAA chief have made a renewed appeal to the county’s fans to row in behind this year’s Leitrim Supporters Club draw after they revealed that the county’s teams will be using the new Centre of Excellence from September 2012.

by John Connolly

Leitrim GAA County Board Chairman Joe Flynn and Secretary Diarmuid Sweeney told the Leitrim Observer that the two all-weather pitches are ready for seeding and work is already swell underway on the extended dressing room complex at the new Leitrim GAA Centre of Excellence.

And both officials have asked the people of Leitrim to get behind the current Leitrim Supporters Club campaign after they revealed that the entire project in Annaduff has not yet cost the Board anything.

“The two full-sized and match capable pitches are ready for seeding and once we allow 15 to 16 months for the bedding in process, the new Centre of Excellence will be fully operational and available to all County teams, mens and ladies, and development squads,” Joe Flynn revealed.

“The building of the extended dressing room complex is already under way, which will include four dressing rooms, a kitchen, an indoor handball alley and a wieghts room while the floodlights will be 350 lux, which is the requirement from Croke Park to stage matches.

“We considered the location very carefully as it is ideally located for our players travelling from Dublin, Galway, Sligo, Kinlough, etc.”

However, Joe agreed that while the County Board have not had to levy clubs or dip into their own reserves, the success of the Leitrim Supporters Club draw is never more important.

“Thankfully we haven’t had to dip into our own finances for the construction work to date but I particularly want to pay tribute to the clubs of Leitrim who agreed to put the €250,000 grant that we received thanks to the opening of Croke Park to other sports towards the cost of the Centre of Excellence.

“We are definitely hoping that we won’t have to levy clubs for this development in the years to come if the Supporters Club draw is successful. We have been operating under a very tight budget for the last few years and I wish to acknowledge the help of the clubs of the county.

“We are hoping that a successful Supporters Club Draw will enable us to ease the financial burden on the County Board and enable us to push on and complete the project on time.”

Secretary Diarmuid Sweeney revealed that, for once, the financial down-turn has helped Leitrim’s cause - “The tendering process has been supervised in conjunction with Croke Park and the prices did come down over the lifetime of the project.

“We did re-tender the project twice and we have made major savings in that time. Croke Park helped up with the tendering process for the construction of the pitches and the dressing rooms complex.

“Croke Park also insisted that we install a spectator facility for 250 people and the Centre of Excellence will be available for schools games, which is a major burden for schools during the winter.

“We are also going to implement a time-management structure for the Centre as we want to ensure that the county football and hurling teams, ladies teams and development teams all have full access to the Centre. The two pitches will be well able to stand up to the proposed usage and we have also signed a six year maintenance contract for the grounds.”

Appealing for the county’s clubs to get behind this year’s Supporters Club Draw, Joe Flynn said “We have changed the format this year in that we have allocated all clubs a specific amount to sell. We believe that it is a realistic amount and all clubs are required to sell their allocation and the Supporters Club Draw is so important to us as a County Board to be able to prepare out teams to the highest standards.”

With €850,000 already spent on the purchase of the grounds and the development to date of the Centre of Excellence in Annaduff, which has been funded completely so far thanks to grants from Croke Park, Leitrim GAA County Board estimate that the entire cost of the project will come between €1.7 and €2 million.

Tickets are currently on sale in all the clubs of the county at a price of €40 with every ticket sold seeing the purchaser receive their Leitrim Supporters Club 2011 Car sticker and a specially commissioned Leitrim Supporters Club scarf to mark the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the club.