Saturday 19 October 2019

Behind the scenes at the sparkling training centre that will welcome Mick McCarthy's Ireland squad next week

Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Mick McCarthy's Republic of Ireland squad will enjoy some of the best warm weather training facilities in Europe when they begin their preparation for next month's crucial Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar at The Campus in Portugal's Algarve on Monday.

The high performance sports complex at the Quinta do Lago development opened for business in October, with the Ireland squad set to join a list of high profile stars who have already stepped foot on the immaculate DESSO GrassMaster hybrid pitch that will be used by McCarthy and his squad.

Joe Schmidt's Ireland rugby squad used The Campus as their training base ahead of this year's Six Nations championship, while Brian O'Driscoll staged a rugby camp for kids at the venue last month.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has hosted junior training camps for at The Campus and will be back at the venue in the final weekend of May for more sessions, with Burnley FC the Premier League club to use the classy facilities at a venue that is Irish owned.

Once the training sessions are finished, the Ireland players will be able make use of sparkling new gym equipment, a plush wellness area that includes plunge pools and ice baths, with medical rooms available to treat any injury issues.

"The Campus was built with elite athletes in mind and we are delighted to have already welcomed some of the biggest names in sport," said Sean Moriarty, CEO of Quinta do Lago. "We went to a lot of football and rugby ground around the world to make sure we had the best pitch possible here and we that we have that.

"The pitch here is the same as they have at the AVIVA Stadium in Dublin and it is also used by Manchester City, so it is a high end pitch and we are delighted to have it at The Campus.

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"We also spoke to the top fitness and nutritionists around the world and tried to get the best aspects of what was a big wish list into The Campus.

"We can close off the ground floor of our high performance centre when big football teams are in here and that gives them the privacy they need. We have everything they would need here and it is great to see the response we have had from the teams and sportsmen that have been here so far."

It is not just football and rugby teams that have found a new home at The Campus as artificial clay and hard tennis courts at the heart of the development and Judy Murray, mother of tennis champions Andy and Jamie, hosting regular camps to junior and adult players.

Ireland's 2012 Paralympic hero Mark Rohan is running the complex's thriving cycling centre while former Chelsea captain John Terry is a regular visitor to The Campus to play on their padel courts, with the sport that is a cross between squad and tennis hugely popular in Portugal and Spain.

The Ireland players will doubtless be keen to sample some of Quinta's magnificent golf courses, that have been used Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy for pre-season practice in recent years, with a collection of high calibre restaurants around the complex.

Meanwhile, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard and former Ireland defender John O'Shea are among the star names who own homes at Quinta do Lago, with property prices soaring due to limited demand.

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