Thursday 24 January 2019

Hard work pays off for Blackwater as €400,000 indoor arena opens

Tommy Whelan, Blackwater GAA club president; Davy Fitzgerald, Wexford Senior Hurling manager; Liam Buttle, club chairman at Derek Kent, County Board chairman
Tommy Whelan, Blackwater GAA club president; Davy Fitzgerald, Wexford Senior Hurling manager; Liam Buttle, club chairman at Derek Kent, County Board chairman

Brendan Keane

Blackwater GAA club has officially opened its new €400,000 indoor arena with Wexford Senior hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald giving an inspired speech at the event.

The club received a Sports Capital Fund grant of €110,000 towards the cost of the project in addition to an €18,000 grant from the Leinster GAA Club Development Fund.

However, the remainder of the money was raised within the local community and the support the club received from local people was something the Development Committee Chairperson, Michael Cash, described as incredible.

'Everyone was so supportive of the project and the help we received from local people was fantastic,' he said.

'To have it reach this stage has been a true community effort,' he added.

The new indoor arena features a 50m x 25m astro-turf pitch along with 18 feet heigh recessed hurling walls.

'The walls are recessed because it's purpose built for hurling and football,' said Mr Cash.

He also said that while very appreciative of the grants received at official level the committee behind the project and the club officials in general were overwhelmed at the level of support given by the public to raise the remainder of the money.

'It was built without getting a loan from the bank and we are really appreciative of that,' said Mr Cash.

'Most of the money for this was raised in the general Blackwater area,' he added.

'It was completed through the goodness of the people in the area.'

Work on developing the project was ongoing over the last four years while fundraising for the building began around six years ago.

'It's phase one of an overall development plan we devised for the club,' said Mr Cash.

'The next phase, which we hope to see developed over the next two to five years, will include the likes of new dressing rooms, a meeting room and kitchen area,' he added.

Ongoing development is a key aspect of the club's overall vision and with that in mind a new playing pitch was developed in 2008 with a walking track opened in 2013.

'Our development committee is very active and we did a lot of work in the last five or six years,' said Mr Cash.

'We have the backing of the club and the ladies section in creating this arena,' he added.

From an initial conversation between Mr Cash and other members of the club to opening the new complex a massive amount of work has taken place.

'Everyone was very supportive of the idea and we had a lot of meetings with stakeholders like the County Board who were also fully behind it,' said Mr Cash.

At the opening Mr Fitzgerald, who proudly wore his native Co Clare club colours to the event, highlighted the importance of such facilities for the future growth of hurling in the Model County. He also said it was important for future generations to have a place to train regardless of weather and that developing the facilities now would prove very beneficial to the club in the long term.

Before Mr Fitzgerald cut the ribbon the new facility was blessed by parish priest Fr Brendan Nolan.

The organisers were delighted with the number of people present with Mr Cash describing the crowd in attendance as 'fantastic'.

Light refreshments were served following the formalities and there was also music provided by a local DJ who is also a member of the club.

The committee thanked everyone who helped make the launch day a success and a particular word of thanks was conveyed to Mr Fitzgerald who was happy to mingle while signing autographs and posing for photographs.

Enniscorthy Guardian