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Saturday 10 December 2016

Dubs to stay put as GAA open €12m facility

County's footballers and hurlers will not be taking up residence in Abbotstown complex

Derry Enright, venue manager, gives a tour of the facilities of the GAA National Games Development Centre at Abbotstown. Photo: Sportsfile
Derry Enright, venue manager, gives a tour of the facilities of the GAA National Games Development Centre at Abbotstown. Photo: Sportsfile

Dublin's senior football and hurling teams will not train at the GAA's new National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown, the Herald has learned.

Croke Park's top brass unveiled the new €12m project to media yesterday, stressing that there were no "anchor tenants", and that the 25-acre facility at the National Sports Campus would be available to any county or club within the association.

While it is expected that Dublin, for obvious geographical and population reasons, will use Abbotstown more than any other county at club, development and underage levels, their flagship teams have no current plans to relocate.

Jim Gavin's Dublin senior footballers will continue to use the grounds at Innisfails and St Clare's for their league and All-Ireland preparations while the Dublin county board have also invested considerably in DCU's facilities for use by the senior hurlers.

Both have tenancy agreements that run for at least the next two years.

Usage

However, The Herald understands that the cost of fitting out the gymnasium in Abbostown will be met by Dublin GAA, who are likely to expect first call on its usage as a result of their investment.

Bryan Cullen, their high performance manager, could therefore use the facility as a base from which to work with county teams at various levels in both codes while the Dublin county board hope the centralisation of such athletic development work will cut costs of gym membership of their players.

"Have Dublin any special first say in this? The answer is no," stressed GAA director general Páraic Duffy at the launch. "Nor have they sought it yet, to be fair to them. But I'm sure they will use it.

"Our goal," he added, "is to have this used, teams of all shapes and sizes using it. I think clubs will be thrilled with the opportunity to come here maybe for a weekend or using it for a gym session.

"I think it will be used by all 32 counties, that's what we want."

An impressive facility, Abbotstown houses five playing pitches - four of them full size and all of them floodlit - a 3G pitch, a hurling wall and a pavilion which houses 10 dressing-rooms, a reception area and gymnasium, and associated facilities for physiotherapy, referees, meeting rooms and dining facilities.

A covered, seated spectator area adjoining the pavilion can cater for 400 people.

The cost of renting a floodlit pitch is €150 for a 90-minute session or €100 for one without the lights switched on. There will be a facility to book online from next month.

Though Dublin have no agreement in place with regard to pitch use, they are somewhat invested in the cost of the build.

The €2m set aside by Central Council for Dublin's scrapped Centre of Excellence at Rathcoole was instead directed into the funding for Abbotstown.

Conceivably, the main pitch could host senior club championship matches, though it appears more suitable as a training base.

Asked which competitive matches would be most likely to be played there, Duffy replied: "I'd say second and third-level in particular.

"Things like the international rules team preparing. Any game with a small attendance would be a possibility."

Defending the location of the site, Duffy pointed out: "This is the National Sports Campus, we didn't determine where that would be.

"The government decided it would be here. As the premier sporting organisation in the country we had to be here but we didn't decide the site.

"If the government had decided to put this in Athlone or Cavan or Monaghan or Kerry we'd have been there, because we have to be because we are the major national sporting body.

"You couldn't have a National Sports Campus without the GAA.

"The government decided it would be here and gave us the land here so we developed it here," Duffy concluded.

"We didn't decide to put a facility into Dublin."

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