Neighbourly deal nets club €1m campus and JP’s privacy

THE Staker Wallace junior GAA club in Co Limerick hasn’t much of a profile. There is little or no silver in the trophy cabinet.

In fact it’s over 30 years since they tasted success at county level. But this unheralded junior hurling outfit will shortly have one of the finest boasts in Irish sport — a €1 million club campus to compare with the best.

And it won’t cost the club a cent.

A state-of-the-art pavilion is under construction and two playing pitches have been laid, one under lights, all thanks to a deal struck with neighbour JP McManus in 2006.

Mr McManus acquired the old Staker Wallace two-and-a-half acre ground which over-looked his new €100m mansion in Martinstown, Kilmallock.

Mr McManus wanted to close off the area to sightseers who were using the old GAA club grounds to get a sneak view of the new mansion.

And in return for the pitch and old club building, JP agreed to build a completely new club facility half a mile away on a magnificent 25-acre site.

The two playing pitches have been laid, and work is now under way on a huge new club premises which will also serve as a local community centre.

One of the two manicured pitches is lit up by 48 floodlights attached to eight 35ft high pillars.

The club’s new facilities will include a sports hall, changing rooms, shower rooms, meeting room and an extensive car parking area nearby.

Yesterday, a large crane was putting a huge stone archway in place on the site of the old GAA grounds and this will serve as the main gated entrance to the 40,000sq ft Palladian style mansion JP has built on the grounds of his 630-acre stud farm at Martinstown.

A team of Italian craftsmen are currently completing work on the marble spiral stairway in the mansion.

Members of the Staker Wallace Club refuse to speak about the deal they struck with Mr McManus.

The new club premises was designed by Limerick architect Michael Healy, who also did design work on the McManus mansion.

While construction work was being carried out on the McManus mansion, day trippers were driving into the old Staker Wallace grounds, with its strategic vantage point overlooking the site of Mr McManus’s new home, to catch a glimpse of one of the biggest mansions built in this country in recent times.

According to a local source: “JP wanted more privacy and moved to acquire the GAA grounds and a deal was done. As well as the huge archway entrance being built on the old GAA ground site, he has planted hundreds of trees which will screen off his property from the main road.”

Followers of the Staker Wallace junior hurling side will be hoping that the magnificent new facilities will lift the club’s fortunes.

The club last won the County Junior A hurling championship in 1977.

However, there were recent signs of a revival in the club’s playing fortunes when they reached the final of the County Limerick Junior A hurling championship last year, only to be beaten by Monagea.

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