Anyone who has visited O’Moore Park this year will have noticed considerable changes going on at the adjacent Laois GAA Training Centre.
And Laois GAA have released a video showing its progress.
Three Croke Park-sized pitches, all fully floodlit and with a perimeter fence on two of them immediately catch the eye, even more so following the removal of the wall at the back of the stand and on Fr Browne Avenue.
And in recent weeks construction has started on the new complex which will include four modern dressing rooms, a large gym, a kitchen and catering area, public toilets and storage rooms.
While at the moment teams tog out in the O’Moore Park dressing rooms, it’s planned that the new 17,000 square foot building will be open by next April. There are also plans to move the Laois GAA offices to an upstairs section of that building – but that won’t happen unless a buyer is sought for the current office in Parkside. That is on sale at the moment with Hume Auctioneers.
The entire project is costing over €3m. €1m of that has come from the GAA’s Central Council with €225,000 from the Leinster Council.
A further €370,000 came from the sale of the land in Dooary in Ballyroan that Laois had initially purchased for their Training Centre while they also had €370,000 from the money given to the county from the GAA’s decision to rent out Croke Park to rugby and soccer from 2007 to 2011. Laois had ring-fenced that money for their proposed Training Centre.
Laois have also received €45,000 from the Sports Capital Grants and are hopeful of receiving further funding when the latest tranche of grants are announced later this year.
The balance of €1m will be from an AIB loan which was recently approved. Repayments, starting at €100,000 and also incorporting the loan repayments for the O’Moore Park stand, will be paid back over 15 years.
Laois GAA Chairman Gerry Kavanagh says that the centre is a “serious attraction to young players” and that it allows the county to keep all their teams, hurling and football, underage and senior, all in the same place.
He also says that while there will be some funding drive the hope is not to put the burden on the clubs, who are already levied through the annual €130 County Board ticket.
The land was originally owned by Portlaoise GAA Club and was sold to a developer during the boom with Portlaoise moving to a new location outside the town in Rathleague. The proposed development never went ahead though with the land coming back into the hands of Laois GAA via the GAA authorities in Croke Park.
The development of the Training Centre brings to an end Laois’s quest to have a facility of this nature. Land was purchased in Ballyroan which was later sold while Laois also came in for land in Galmoy just across the border in Kilkenny. Feasibility studies were done to develop that but its location was an obvious disadvantage.
And with the location in Portlaoise now beside the county grounds, it means that everything is on the same site, allowing for an increased sharing of resources – for example the same strength and conditioning coach could work with various teams.
“Laois GAA is a very proud GAA county and is one of the few dual counties competing at the top tier,” says a statement from the County Board on the progress of the project.
“Whilst a county with our population and resources will sometimes struggle against the big boys or those who invest all their resources in one game, there is a burning desire amoung our members to compete and beat the best.
“There is a massive programme of work being carried out at underage level in recent years, which will be supplemented in the coming months with the launch of the Coaching and Games Development plan, and while success has yet to come, there are encouraging signs particularly at minor grade that is yielding dividends and a corner has been turned.
“It is hoped that the new training grounds will provide a practical and real assistance.
“Our county is crying out for football and hurling success and this new Training Centre is an important part of that vision that is being put in place to help achieve this.”