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: