Duffy feels Abbotstown ticks all the boxes for Dublin's needs
NATIONAL SPORTS CAMPUS NEWS:THE NATIONAL Sports Campus received the firm backing of the GAA yesterday when director general Páraic Duffy said that Dublin’s proposed development of grounds at Rathcoole may be long-fingered in favour of moving to the Abbotstown site.
Abbotstown has become a development project by the current administration, which hopes to encourage Irish sports National Governing Bodies (NGB) to move to their grounds in West Dublin. The Bertie Bowl is dead but the National Sports Campus is very much alive. The grounds are owned by the state but vested in the National Sports Campus Development Authority (NSCDA), who are essentially looking for tenants.
Lease agreements are now in place with the FAI, IRFU, GAA and Irish Hockey (IHA). Yesterday Horse Sport Ireland and Pentathlon Ireland joined the “partnership” with the Government, with the announcement of the development of high performance facilities.
“I’m very pleased with the huge progress made in the last six months. I hope the decision by HSI and Pentathlon Ireland will encourage many other NGBs to view the campus as an ideal site for developing facilities and enhancing their own sport,” said Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The 520 acres have been portioned out to each of the sports with the GAA seeing the locality as ideal for their needs and situated strategically in terms of their requirements in Dublin, Kildare and Meath. But it means that Dublin’s proposed centre of excellence will be shelved, for the moment.
“I don’t want to speak for Dublin but I would think that Rathcoole is very much on the long finger,” said Duffy. “Abbotstown would tick a lot of boxes for them. It won’t be exclusively for Dublin’s use but it would tick a lot of boxes.
“In the next five or 10 years I wouldn’t see Rathcoole being developed. The resources of the association and of Dublin should go into Abbotstown. That would meet most of Dublin’s needs. Rathcoole will have to wait. The money isn’t there to develop both.
“There had been funding put aside for Rathcoole from the rugby and soccer money,” added Duffy. “So there is a decision to be made there. It would make more sense to put that into Abbotstown rather than wait on Rathcoole to come on stream. That can be developed in any number of years time but it may make more sense in the short-term to put that money in Abbotstown.”
There will be a total of six GAA pitches and of those one will be the dimensions of Croke Park, while one of the others will be an artificial surface.
Rugby, however, was more circumspect about what it was prepared to commit to. With much of the rugby infrastructure in place, the IRFU’s question is whether they have the money to invest while they are meeting the repayments on Aviva Stadium, as well as running four professional senior rugby teams.
“To have a high performance facility there would necessitate a very big investment,” said IRFU president Billy Glynn. “If they are going to go down that route they have to make a major step, a major step. You could say it would be a lovely idea to have all your facilities out there, all your offices and all the high performance and a place for all the national teams to come and meet – we’re a bit fragmented at the moment.
“We are very conscious of the assistance the IRFU gets from the sports council every year and conscious of the need to be supportive of national endeavours. We do feel we have a responsibility there and we have to weigh up that responsibility with the underpinning commitments that go with it, which are financial. Everybody understands that.”
It is expected that new headquarters for Irish Sport NGBs will be occupied early next year, while work on the multi-pitches and pavilion is to commence in January 2013. Site clearance and infrastructural works are already underway.
There has been “quite a number of false starts,” added the Minister before outlining the €600,000 project for Horse Sport Ireland and Pentathlon Ireland, where a number of sites will be developed.
The aim there will be to recoup 50 per cent of the capital investment within 10 years, while an annual rent will also be charged.
The agreed plan involves a High Performance equestrian training area within the walled garden of Abbotstown House.