Galway GAA to offload 103ac block of land bought at 'Tiger' prices
In the modern sporting world you are nothing if you don't have access to a centre of excellence.
It is the buzzword in GAA circles and millions of euros have been pumped into these facilities around the country as county boards seek to fine-tune their hurlers and footballers with a view to filling the rather bare shelves of their silverware cabinets.
With such a centre in mind the Galway County board bought 103ac of prime land at Mountain South, 2km from Athenry, at the height of the 'tiger years' and probably paid tiger prices for the property.
Nevertheless while planning permission was awarded the fields of Athenry at Mountain South lay very low once the recession bit.
However, in the intervening years the lack of a centre of excellence didn't stop Galway from knocking consistently on the All Ireland door at Croke Park and the same Tribesmen showed no shortage of excellence when they lifted the Liam McCarthy cup last September.
With some justification Galway GAA has come to the conclusion that the proposed facilities are surplus to requirements so the county board is off-loading the fields at Athenry and scrapping the plans for six pitches with pitch shelters, an all-weather pitch, a sports hall, a gym, dressing rooms, car parks and ball walls.
The auctioneer handling the sale, Cathal Moran is himself a decorated hurler having won three all-Ireland club medals with Athenry and an All-Ireland U21 medal with Galway.
Mr Moran is guiding the sale price of the land at €750,000 or just under a very conservative €7,500/ac.
Anyone familiar with Athenry will know that the area is home to serious farmers.
It is also of course home to the Mellows Campus, the renowned agricultural centre of excellence run by Teagasc in the area
The land is good, dry, limestone, free draining agricultural ground divided by the iconic stone walls of east Galway.
Reclaimed twice in recent years the place was bought as two separate holdings by the GAA and merged into one. Since purchase it has been rented for grazing.
Divided into about 13 paddocks by stone and wire fencing the ground is all in one block with limited road frontage at two points and water supplied by the mains service.
The buildings on the farm include a cattle shed, a two-column haybarn and a three- column storage shed.
Cathal Moran expects interest from a wide range of customers.
These will include conventional farmers, solar farm interests and perhaps developers.
Athenry is a 25 minute commute from Galway city and there is strong demand for housing in the area that's popular with commuters.
While Mr Moran is cautious in relation to development potential he points to the fact that the place had planning permission for extensive facilities and this might be an advantage to whoever purchases it.
The sale has the making of a powerful and interesting transaction when the property comes for auction as an entire at the Raheen Woods Hotel on Thursday, April 26.
GVA Donal O'Buachalla is joint agent in the sale.
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