Jobs boost as Carlow GAA plan for future
Carlow County Board will create employment for 100 people and pump €3.5m into the local economy if their proposed Centre of Excellence project at Fenagh gets the green light in the next few months.
The Sunday Independent can reveal that planning permission for the ambitious development has been lodged with the local council and officials hope that work can begin on the initiative by September.
No objections have yet been lodged and county board officials are hoping it will stay that way.
"The centre is an extremely ambitious project for this county and by the time it is completed, hopefully in 2012, we estimate that we'll have pumped about €3.5m into the economy," said board chairman Pat Deering.
"On top of this, we believe that we will pay €500,000 in VAT to the Government so that will be of some significant benefit to them as well.
"This is a huge development for us. There is more unity and understanding in the county now than in a long while. We have about 97 per cent of our best hurlers available to us and our most committed footballers are all present in Luke Dempsey's squad. The Fenagh development would help secure a brighter future too."
Phase One of the proposed centre will see the construction of three floodlit pitches, four dressing rooms, a gymnasium, dining area and parking area. Weather permitting, this part of the project will be underway by October and will be completed by the summer of 2012.
Their supporters group, Friends of Carlow, has in the past few weeks been re-branded as Club Carlow, while an underage programme to cater for development squads called Ceatharlach óg has been established under the guidance of Kilkenny hurling selector Mick Dempsey, who works as a development manager with the county board and IT Carlow.
These developments represent great strides for a county that is well used to apathy from some of its best players in both codes and much disharmony over the past few years.
"For a long time, we couldn't get our best players out in either hurling or football but we've stabilised these past few years and our hurlers are making great progress and although they're not yet ready for Division 1, the good work will continue," Deering added.
"Our footballers have only taken men who are willing to give serious commitment and we have our powerful midfielders Brendan Murphy (returned from a stint in the AFL) and Tommy Walsh (home after three years with Wicklow) back in the side. It's good to see a lot of negativity gone from the county."
On what is a busy football championship Sunday today, Carlow's footballers get an opportunity to test their progress against one of the stories of last summer, Mick O'Dwyer's Wicklow, at Portlaoise while All-Ireland champions Kerry begin the defence of their crown at Semple Stadium against Tipperary. In Ulster, Derry host Armagh in a preliminary round game at Cetlic Park.