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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 28 January, 2020

GAA insists National Games Centre at Abbotstown is not just for Dublin teams

Páraic Duffy believes it would have been ‘unthinkable’ for GAA to turn down facility.

The GAA's National Games Development Centre was opened last April.
The GAA's National Games Development Centre was opened last April.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE GAA HAVE rejected suggestions that the National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown is essentially a centre of excellence for Dublin GAA teams.

The centre opened at the National Sports Campus in Dublin last April but Director General Páraic Duffy insists that it is a national facility.

Duffy pointed to evidence that it is being used by a wide range of teams, particularly those in Leinster and has been used for training by Dublin-based Connacht players.

“It is not a Dublin-only centre of excellence and the figures will emphasise that. There has been a fantastic level of usage.

“The resource has been widely used by other counties in the province of Leinster, which is exactly as it should be, and that, as a training facility for Dublin county teams, use of the campus has been limited.

“Leinster Council has done excellent work in using the facility to stage new Games Development events, while Connacht Council has demonstrated how it can benefit all counties by organising training opportunities for Dublin-based Connacht players.

“In fairness to Dublin, they use the weights room, the senior (team), but they didn’t use it all that much. We’ve had clubs from every county in Ireland; overseas groups. It is doing exactly what we wanted it to do.”

A view of the GAA National Games Development Centre The GAA National Games Development Centre Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Duffy believes it would have been ‘unthinkable’ for the GAA to turn down the chance to develop a 25-acre facility at the National Sports Campus in an area that is so heavily populated.

“We must remind ourselves that it was a government decision, not a GAA one, that determined the location of the National Sports Campus.

“It would, in my opinion, have been unthinkable for the GAA to have opted out and refused to accept the 25 acre site offered free of charge.

“What message would the GAA have sent to the rest of Irish sport by opting out? And how could we have justified turning down the offer of a prime 25 acre site and the opportunity to develop facilities in one of the most heavily populated urban areas in the country?

A view of the GAA National Games Development Centre The facility in Abbotstown staged a recent Walsh Cup game between Kilkenny and Antrim. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“The reservations most often raised included the question of whether any county outside of Dublin would be in a position financially or practically to use the facility for anything but an occasional or once-off basis and that it would give Dublin a further competitive advantage by providing a modern training facility for Dublin GAA for the foreseeable future.

“Dublin has been very successful in recent years, as might be expected from a county with over 25% of the country’s population. There is an increasing level of participation in Gaelic games in the city and county and a growth in the number of juvenile teams in virtually every club, factors that have combined to place a huge pressure on facilities in Dublin.

“If the facilities at Abbotstown served only to relieve that pressure and to provide excellent facilities for the playing of our games, it should be considered a very
positive development.

“Abbotstown is at the centre of one of the most heavily populated urban areas in the country, is extremely accessible by road for the vast population that lives within fifty miles of the campus, and is ideally placed to perform its role as a National Games Development Centre.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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