Proposed Blackrock-Cuala Stradbrook deal hits snag

Cuala unable to source the funding they require to develop the land they seek to purchase

Blackrock RFC’s lands at Stradbrook which are the subject ot the proposed ground-sharing deal with Cuala GAA club. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Blackrock RFC’s lands at Stradbrook which are the subject ot the proposed ground-sharing deal with Cuala GAA club. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho


It is unlikely that Cuala GAA club will be purchasing any of Blackrock College RFC’s Stradbrook land, The Irish Times has learned.

Despite both parties signing a memorandum of understanding in November when Blackrock agreed in principle to sell their bottom pitches to Cuala and enter a ground-sharing agreement, financial constraints are proving a substantial barrier.

The initial €2.5 million deal was to include partial funding from the GAA and would see Stradbrook’s lower pitches transformed into all-weather facilities.

In one fell swoop Blackrock’s outstanding €1.1 million debt would have been cleared with both clubs then entering into a 999-year lease on the land whereby all facilities, including the clubhouse and main pitch, would be shared.

“The vision for Blackrock College RFC would be a multi-sports facility in Stradbrook with rugby at its core,” said John Smyth, club president and former chief executive of First Active bank, last year.

Main activity
Cuala, with 2,000 membership and 95 teams, were always going to continue using their facility in Dalkey, along with the Thomastown and Shankill pitches they lease from Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown county council, but had hoped to move their main activity to Blackrock.

Funds for the project are needed from a number of sources, including private benefactors, a GAA grant, National Lottery, local authority grants and internal fundraising.

“It’s a big project and we wouldn’t have the financial wherewithal within the club to do it alone,” said club secretary Declan Murray previously.

The deal hit its first major snag in late January when the GAA did not agree to give Cuala any money, at least until the project was up and running.

Position papers were exchanged between the clubs within the last 10 days, with Cuala’s position significantly different from their initial proposal as they cannot develop the land they seek to purchase in the short term.

The land purchase price of €1.1 million, which neatly covered Blackrock’s debt, remains available but currently not the other funds essential to begin redevelopment.

“If all (of the funds requested) came through we would be ready to go,” Murray told The Irish Times on January 29th. “If not we would have to do a bit of saving.”

As of yet the funds are not forthcoming. That significantly altered the initial understanding between the south Dublin sporting clubs.

Three representatives from both Cuala and Blackrock have continued to meet on a regular basis, and will do so again in the coming days, in an attempt to salvage something similar to the initial arrangement.

But a timescale for when the all-weather pitches could be funded by Cuala and specific details about ground sharing, regarding the lease of land, remains unresolved.

“We are at an advanced and sensitive stage of negotiations with Cuala,” Smyth said yesterday. Blackrock were unwilling to make further comment.

Cuala refused to comment.

Blackrock were relegated to Division 2A of the All-Ireland league last weekend but have appointed former Leinster outhalf Emmett Farrell as their new director of rugby.

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