DUBLIN GAA'S dream of a major development on the southside has been dashed after the county board was outbid in its attempts to purchase the Spawell Complex in Templeogue.
Donnycarney chiefs viewed the 35-acre site as the ideal location for a new centre of excellence - but also, potentially, as a 25,000-capacity stadium, future finances permitting.
Dublin's failure to seal the deal has left a bitter aftertaste, with county board CEO John Costello (right) highly critical of the National Asset Management Agency.
NAMA responded today by declaring it was "not the seller" and t hat the receiver was obliged to sell to the highest bidder.
That argument doubtless won't wash with Costello, who declared: "It is disillusioning and regrettable that NAMA, despite the inclusion in their terms of reference of 'Community Development', have failed once again to acknowledge the role of voluntary organisations in their disposal strategy in the generation of social capital."
The county board chief added: "We considered that the Dublin GAA proposal for the construction of five grass and synthetic playing pitches and complementary facilities represented the best value for NAMA and the tax-payer involving, as it would, significant benefits to the community in terms of participation in sport, health and fitness and the economy generally."
NAMA's position was subsequently outlined in a statement today via a spokesperson, who said: "NAMA is not the seller. The property is being sold by a receiver who is obliged to accept the highest offer on behalf of the debtor.
"The receiver could not have accepted a lower bid simply because it was received from a sporting organisation. The debtor could have sued the receiver if that was to happen. Taxpayers would have been disadvantaged if the property was sold to a bidder for less than another bidder was willing to pay."
The property went on the market with an asking price of €6.5m, with one report suggesting Dublin bid considerably more. "That is correct," Costello confirmed. Dublin don't know the identity of the successful bidder, while NAMA was not in a position to reveal who has purchased the site or for how much since it is "subject to similar obligations as other lenders ... that do not allow them to disclose confidential information relating to their borrowers."
The Spawell would have represented arguably the perfect location for Dublin's planned development - it is just off the M50 Motorway, facilitating relatively easy access, while it is also close to two of the bigger southside clubs, St Jude's and Ballyboden-St Enda's.
The site received planning permission in 2010 for a 150-bedroom hotel and leisure centre, plus 579 car spaces. Dublin, though, had very different plans. "That was the idea of looking at the Spawell - we would have had a centre of excellence and a stadium," explained county board chairman Seán Shanley. "We are on the lookout and it's difficult to get a place."
With Parnell Park catering for the northside, Shanley's future vision was an even bigger stadium on the southside. "Parnell Park has a great atmosphere but we need a larger capacity if we are going to have home league games," he added.
Costello, when contacted by The Herald, underlined how Dublin's most urgent need is for new pitch developments, not a stadium.
"Our primary focus was to get a southside base for all our teams and development squads," he outlined. "Our participation rates are literally going through the roof ... since 2010, football is up 27pc and hurling is up 49pc. We need cluster developments of pitches."
The Spawell was one such option, now gone by the wayside.