Galway hurling’s difficulty could be Galway United’s opportunity. The 103-acre site sold by the Galway board, at a loss of almost €2m, is to be turned into a €20m soccer academy.
Recently bought by developers, the Comer brothers, Luke and Brian, from Glenamaddy, for €750,000, Mountain South, outside Athenry — which was purchased by Galway GAA for €2.5m in 2008 to be developed into a centre of excellence — will now become one for soccer.
Galway continue to pay back a €3.1m loan to Central Council for the purchase of Mountain South.
According to the Connacht Tribune, the Comer Group, who sponsor Galway United, intend turning the site into a centre for emerging young soccer players and to make United one of the leading teams in the country.
It is the intention of the Comers to make it the best facility of its kind in Ireland, a “feeder” academy, and plans are being submitted to Galway County Council. Speaking about their purchasing philosophy, three years ago, Luke Comer said: “It’s all about timing and pricing. If you buy low at the right time, no matter how thick or stupid you are, you will make money.”
The news of its repurposing will come as a kick in the teeth for Galway GAA and a further embarrassment, after the recent revelation that the board made less than €80,000 from the two Ed Sheeran concerts in Pearse Stadium, in May.
Meanwhile, independent auditors have been commissioned to investigate Galway’s financial affairs and to corroborate an internal audit. The details of that probe have not been released, due to legal action taken by an individual. It had been the initial hope of those seeking a study of the books that an independent audit be completed before the compromise of an internal report was agreed.