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Taoiseach backs €30m training centre on site of 'Bertie Bowl'

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has publicly supported the construction of a €30m indoor training centre on the site once designated for the 'Bertie Bowl'.

The plan by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to build a national stadium in Abbotstown in west Dublin has long been abandoned but work has continued to develop other sporting facilities on the 470-acre site.

Mr Kenny, who was there to launch a new headquarters building for 18 sporting bodies, such as the GAA, Canoeing Ireland and Swim Ireland, expressed his support for the next step of building an indoor training centre.

"Don't take that as a guarantee but I'm seriously interested. We'll look at it when it comes along," he said.

Mr Kenny noted that the cost of building the centre was once estimated at €100m but that had now dropped by at least 50pc. An informed source said that with the drop in construction costs and revised plans, the centre could be built for €30m. It would feature a sports hall suitable for 30 different indoor sports with seats for 1,500 spectators. And it is understood that discussions about getting the required Government funding are already under way.

Transport and Sport Minister Leo Varadkar said that it was a priority project because it was "shovel ready".

"We don't really have very good indoor training facilities in Ireland. They would be particularly useful, given the weather most days," he said.

Mr Varadkar also ruled out building a 'Bertie Bowl' stadium on the 470-acre site in future – given that Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium have been completed.

"I think we have enough stadiums in Dublin," he said.

The State has provided free land on the National Sports Campus to sporting bodies. The GAA is going to develop a training pitch built to Croke Park specifications for all inter-county teams to train on. And the FAI is going to build new pitches so that the Irish international team can train there instead of in Malahide, Co Dublin.

By the end of this year, there will also be 17 multi-sport pitches and a new training centre for Horse Sport Ireland on the site.

The National Sports Campus Development Authority, which is in charge of the project, said the new facilities would boost the medal chances of Irish Olympians.

Its chairman, Sean Benton, said there had already been a dramatic improvement in Irish swimming results since the National Aquatic Centre was built on the site 10 years ago.

Irish Independent