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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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'You should have seen the look on the players' faces': Cricket Ireland open new €700,000 training centre

The first phase of the project is complete, but the big piece of the jigsaw remains the development of a national stadium.

CRICKET IRELAND HOPES to engage in conversations with Sport Ireland and the Government over the construction of a new national stadium at Abbotstown, after officially opening its new training facility yesterday.

Plans to develop an international ground on the National Sports Campus were announced last February and now that the first phase of the project is complete, Cricket Ireland is keen to secure funding for the stadium.

photo-aerial-ie An aerial view of the facility at the National Sports Campus. Source: Aerial.ie

The development of the new high-performance centre in west Dublin cost Cricket Ireland €700,000, and the project was part-funded by the Government, Sport Ireland, the International Cricket Council and businessman Denis O’Brien.

The world-class training facility, which is located in the heart of the National Sports Campus, includes five artificial and 16 grass practice wickets, a grass-covered fielding practice area and state-of-the-art bowling machines.

Cricket Ireland will now look to centralise all national team training sessions at the venue as opposed to using club grounds around the country, with this project the latest milestone in the sport’s progression here.

“Every bit of consultation we’ve done with players through the years, the one thing they’ve asked for is somewhere to call home,” Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland chief executive, told The42.

“We’ve always being begging and borrowing from clubs but we’ve worked very hard to secure the necessary funding and now have the ability to provide the infrastructure to essentially have a place to call home.

“You should have seen the look on the faces of the players, and credit must go to Richard Holdsworth who has been working on this for the last three or four years to make it happen.”

While the hope is that phase two — which will feature changing facilities, meeting spaces, performance analysis area and a player zone — will be completed by 2020, the most significant piece of the jigsaw remains the procurement of funding for a stadium.

With the recommendations of an external expert, Cricket Ireland reversed plans to develop an international ground at Malahide, instead identifying Abbotstown as the prime location for a new home.

A view of the facilities The new training facility. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“Work on a stadium is happening behind the scenes,” Deutrom continued. “We have to identify potential sources of funding and that’s a work in progress.”

While the development of a stadium is a long-term project, Ireland will continue to play home matches at its three international accredited grounds in Malahide, Stormont and Bready for the time being.

Graham Ford’s side host Afghanistan in a Twenty20 and One-Day series later this month, while the women’s national team recently qualified for November’s World Twenty20 in the Caribbean.

As well as playing an inaugural Test match, Cricket Ireland also hosted two T20 internationals against India in June, which attracted nearly 20,000 fans to Malahide over two days.

Reflecting on the year as a whole, Deutrom added: “It has probably being the toughest year of my 11-and-a-half years in the job. People might find that hard to believe, but the level of expectation now on Cricket Ireland as a Test nation is both on and off the field.

“The perception is that we are doing well but can we do better? Of course we can. We’re doing some things well and others not so well. It’s constantly a work in progress.”

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Ryan Bailey

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