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Connacht 'air dome' close to take off

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Connacht GAA secretary John Prenty

Connacht GAA secretary John Prenty

Connacht GAA secretary John Prenty

Connacht GAA's €3m 'air dome' will be inflated early next week and operational by mid-September.

Work on the playing surface of the indoor 'High Specification Smart Sports Dome Project' has been completed and the dome itself is now being laid out ahead of inflation which will take three to four hours, according to Connacht GAA secretary John Prenty.

Work to finish off the inside of the dome will take another few weeks, taking the project up to the beginning of September.

The cost of the construction has benefited from €2.1m in State funding through the Rural and Community Regeneration Fund.

The air dome, which will be 150 metres in length by 100 metres in width, will accommodate a pitch almost the size of MacHale Park in Castlebar and will be able to host FBD Connacht League matches when it is operational with some 600 seats in its initial phase, though that will now be impacted in the initial stages by social distancing provisions. Connacht GAA aims to use it predominantly as the hub for their coaching and games development programmes but matches affected by adverse weather will be facilitated there too.

With the relaxation on the use of other facilities by the GAA in the wake of the Liam Miller benefit game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, other sports may also get to avail of the facilities at the Connacht GAA headquarters in Bekan, outside Ballyhaunis.

When completed it will be the biggest sports dome in the world and the biggest indoor facility in this country, Prenty has pointed out.

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