Offaly putting faith in €1.9m centre to help cement their football revival
Just two days out from their senior footballers' Leinster opener at home to Longford this evening, Offaly GAA were on hand at the home of Kilcormac-Killoughey to unveil plans for their new state-of-the-art centre of excellence.
The facility, on the outskirts of Kilcormac, will act as a hub for Offaly GAA - it will have four full-size, sand-based and floodlit pitches with six dressing-rooms, weights room and a range of other meeting rooms.
It is subject to planning but Offaly chiefs are confident of starting work before the end of the year - they will begin by preparing the pitches.
The project is expected to cost €1.9m with Central Council providing up to €1m of that, while funding from Leinster Council to the tune of €275,000 has already been made available to allow work to start.
West Offaly Enterprise Fund will also provide €100,000, and the county will be applying for other sports capital funding.
Offaly GAA will look to raise around €500,000 themselves through corporate sponsorship and other fundraising ventures.
Offaly County Council have transferred the lease on the 21-acre site over to Offaly GAA for a period of 999 years at a token cost of just €1 per year.
Meanwhile, on the playing front, Offaly go into the clash in O'Connor Park on the back of an encouraging league campaign that culminated in the Faithful County claiming Division 4 glory at the expense of tonight's opponents.
Pat Flanagan, who is in his first year in charge, has had a dream start to the job but Offaly have not won a Leinster SFC game since they beat Carlow back in 2007.
Longford beat them in the opening round last year; Jack Sheedy's charges also defeated them in the regular league season this year.
Pat Flanagan has kept faith with the 15 that comprehensively won the league final at the end of April with talisman Niall McNamee enjoying a stint on the half-forward line as opposed to his familiar role in the inside forward line.
Paul McConway captains the side from full-back, while man of the match in the league final Graham Guilfoyle will once again look to lead the charge in midfield.
Longford have been forced to plan without injured centre-forward Paul McKeon, who has been ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Shane Doyle replaces him in the only personnel change from the league final.
The action gets under way in Tullamore at 7.00.