Saturday 16 December 2017

Dublin set to build new base camp at Abbotstown

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

DUBLIN GAA will have a new base at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown.

The GAA hope to start work on their 30-acre site at the state-of-the-art Blanchardstown development in the new year. And while the facilities will be available to various units within the Association, Dublin are expected to use it as a base for their flagship sides.

As it stands, Dublin have no central base for their county teams. In recent years, their senior footballers trained largely out of their St Clare's facility, which was constructed under Pat Gilroy's tenure, and used the nearby DCU pitches. Anthony Daly's hurlers trained at a variety of club grounds in the city. But the Abbotstown project could give them a permanent home.

"We have to put in place a structure to manage the facility and clearly Dublin, in particular, we would see having a role in doing that on our behalf," GAA director general Paraic Duffy said.

The project will be funded both centrally and from Dublin's coffers, which means the Dubs' proposed centre of excellence in Rathcoole is likely to be delayed for the time being.

In their strategic plan, the Dublin County Board outlined an ambition to have two such facilities -- one on the northside and one on the southside.

However, the Rathcoole project had thrown up some issues due to the amount of groundwork required before pitches could be laid and the site's proximity to Baldonnell aerodrome.

"I don't want to speak for Dublin but I would think that Rathcoole is very much on the long finger. Abbotstown won't be exclusively for Dublin's use but it would tick a lot of boxes," said Duffy.

"In the next five or 10 years I wouldn't see Rathcoole being developed. The resources of the Association and of Dublin should go into Abbotstown. That would meet most of Dublin's needs. Rathcoole will have to wait, the money isn't there to develop both."

Around €2m of the money earned from the opening of Croke Park to soccer and rugby had been ring-fenced for the Rathcoole project, but it seems that will be redirected to Abbotstown.

One of the pitches will be the exact dimensions of Croke Park, while another will be an all-weather surface. The GAA will build another two pitches and will have the use of two other shared surfaces. And while the facility will not be expected to host inter-county games, it will be used for second and third-level competitions.

Meanwhile, Daly admitted his disappointment at the decision of Tomas Brady to throw his lot in with the county's footballers for 2013.

Brady joins physical trainer Martin Kennedy in defecting to the footballers in what represents a significant blow for the Clare man.

"I'm very disappointed to hear the news from Tomas. I wish him the best of luck -- he's a fine fella," Daly said.

Brady represented Dublin at football at both the minor and U-21 grades and played in the senior football championship with his club Na Fianna.

Elsewhere, Laois GAA chiefs have bucked recent trends and renewed their sponsorship deal with MW Hire. Having first come on board in 2010, the firm have signed a new two-year deal.

Irish Independent

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