Excellence in the making?

On our way back from the west last Sunday, The Brother and I pulled in off the highway that links Knock and Ballyhaunis to check out progress on the Connacht Council’s Centre of Excellence which is beginning to take shape.  The entrance to it is on the right-hand side of the R323 as you head from Knock to Ballyhaunis and the facility is being constructed in in the townload of Cloonacurry (which is here), not in Bekan as has been widely touted. (For East Mayo aficionados, the turn-off for Bekan is just after the Centre and is located a mile or so up that road).

The sod was turned on the work at Cloonacurry (which, by the way, is just three miles or so off the N17, in case all this talk of rural townlands has you thinking it’s near nowhere) last May and, as you can see from this fact sheet, there are ambitious plans for a whole load of activity to take place there once it’s completed.  At the minute, though, all you can see is a whole load of displaced earth but it’s obvious that – in stark contrast to so many abandoned building projects that now pock-mark the country – it’s full steam ahead on the project, which is due to be completed in 2014.

The plans on display at the entrance show that there’ll be six outdoor pitches, one of them with a synthetic surface and all of which will be floodlit. The main pitch will incorporate a stand that’ll hold 900 punters, which will make the venue suitable for all manner of under-age competitive activity as well, I suppose, as the odd FBD clash. There’ll also be a full-size indoor pitch, which should mean that frost at Ballyhaunis shouldn’t ever be an excuse for derailing an FBD match once the place is up and running.

The list of amenities the Centre will encompass also includes a gym and related facilities, dining facilities, meeting rooms, a hurling wall, a cross-country pathway, a handball alley, eight dressing rooms, a referees’ room, an equipment room and physio and rehab rooms.  That’s quite an amount of stuff in one place.

Standing on the perimeter wall on a sunny and clear but steely cold winter’s day, it was hard to visualise what such a centre might look like but I’m looking forward to coming back in a few years time and taking another video clip to update this short one that I captured at the site last Sunday:

5 thoughts on “Excellence in the making?

  1. Great to see some progress in what, if it gets finished, should be an exciting new development for Mayo football. I fully support this brillant new venture and look forward to the day when Mayo bring Sam to Cloonacurry…………….( Thats the first time that has been said.)
    Ok lads have to admit I live three miles from this place so Im a bit biased.
    Vote For John Prenty, Connacht Secretary, who just so happens to live 2 miles away. (:

  2. The has White Elephant written all over it. From a Mayo point of view its a great facility, but how will this be of use to more remote parts. Can’t see people from Galway City, Conemara, West Mayo or Leitrim rushing to Bekan.

    I dont want to be cynical, but apart from the annual FBD game in Ballyhaunis, what game is going to attract 900 people to this vanity project?

  3. I worry that this along with McHale Park could become a financial millstone around our necks in terms of finance that will yield little in terms of higher standards.
    I visited a centre of excellence (for a challenge match) a few years ago. They had just won the All Ireland Club title. I was expecting outstanding facilities etc. No such thing – just the basics…..but what they had was a group of people who knew their football and were 100% dedicated. The lesson for me was to invest more in the ‘human capital’ and less in the infrastructure.

  4. This is Connacht Council funded so we don’t need to worry about the financial aspect of it or the subsequent future running costs. It’s a Connacht facility geographically located in East Mayo as the centre of Connacht, a bit like Knock Airport I suppose.

    Whether or not it’s easily accessible for people in South Galway or East Leitrim is not really our concern and it’s not our problem if they choose to use it or not. Probably sounds a bit selfish but we have enough to be worrying about ourselves without worrying about our rivals as well.

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