SIX 'developing' hurling counties, and two in camogie, are getting special access to the new National Hurling and Camogie Development Centre, which was unveiled on the Waterford IT sports campus yesterday.
The centre is open to all teams as a commercial entity, but Antrim, Carlow, Down, Laois, Westmeath and Kerry's hurlers will be given special funding through the National Hurling Development Plan, to cover their use of it, as will the camogie players of Waterford and Antrim.
The new initiative is designed to provide sports science, training and nutrition education to hurling teams, which will expand to skills coaching.
Its initial use will be centred around its fitness testing capacity, which will be used to build up a database on weaker hurling counties to see what the main physical differences between them and hurling's stronger powers are.
The centre even has a mobile testing bus which has already been dispatched to Down and Antrim.
"One of the problems is that a lot of testing done on hurling teams is ad hoc and quite secretive," said Eugene McKenna, chief executive of campus services at Waterford IT.
"Our facilities will allow us to use standardised tests, collate information on the designated 'weaker' counties and measure these against the stronger ones."
WIT have already invested over €18.5m into their new sports HQ, which Waterford GAA already use for county training.
The college completed the first phase, including pitches, in 2010, and a new indoor centre will open by the end of this year and will now double up as the GAA's new hurling development centre.