Kingdom centre gets green light

KERRY GAA officials have received the green light from board delegates to press ahead with the purchase of 48 acres of land at Currans, near Currow, to develop a GAA Centre of Excellence in the county.

The project, which has planning permission, now awaits Croke Park ratification.

The land was part of the original deal that would have seen Austin Stack Park exchanged for land to build a state-of-the-art GAA stadium at Ballybeggan Park but the collapsed property market has all but scuppered that deal. Now the county board are moving ahead on their own, with the help of the Munster Council and Croke Park, who will grant aid the new development.

The purchase price was not disclosed but county board chairman Jerome Conway confirmed that the price being sought now was well below original €2m asking price.

Mr Conway added: “It’s been obvious for a number of years that we need a centre of excellence so that the county teams can train, particularly in the winter months, when it’s difficult to get pitches. Clubs have been very good to us and have bent over backwards to help but we can understand that clubs are struggling to facilitate their own teams because they have football, hurling, camogie and all the juvenile sector to look after.

“We have planning permission at Currans already for the development of floodlit pitches and dressing rooms. This will be done on a phased basis – the first phase will consist of purchasing the grounds, developing two all-weather, floodlit pitches, as well as building dressing rooms and doing any other ancillary works such as car parks and drainage.”

He also explained: “We originally were purchasing 31 acres as part of the swap deal that would have involved us moving from Austin Stack Park to Ballybeggan but we are now about to purchase 48 acres, which is considerably more and we are happy with the deal. There will be grants available to us from Croke Park and the Munster Council, to firstly purchase the lands, and to develop.”

Conway confirmed that the Board has permission to borrow €800,000 to help finance the new venture but stressed that this figure was “the upper limit”. Work on the project should be ready to roll early in the New Year.

Meanwhile, All-Ireland champions Tipperary lead the way in this year’s GPA Hurling Team of the Year with seven representatives. That figure is an increase on the six they received in the GAA All-Star awards with Pádraic Maher selected at left half-back instead of JJ Delaney, in what is the only variation from the All-Star team. Brendan Cummins, Paul Curran, Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath, Lar Corbett and Eoin Kelly are all set to receive their second award of the year. Beaten finalists Kilkenny have four representatives in Jackie Tyrell, Tommy Walsh, Michael Fennelly and Richie Power. Noel Connors, Michael Walsh and John Mullane are the three Waterford players honoured with the solitary award from Galway going to Damien Hayes.

GAA Hurler of the Year Lar Corbett will fight it out for the GPA individual accolade with teammate and GAA Young Hurler of the Year Brendan Maher. Kilkenny duo Tommy Walsh and Michael Fennelly are the other players in the running. The battle for the Christy Ring Player-of-the-Year will be contested by Joe Clarke, Tom Murnane, Jonathan O’Neill and Paul Braniff, while London’s Mark Mythen and Armagh’s Paul McCormack are the two nominees for the Nicky Rackard Player-of-the-Year award.

The awards will be announced at a Gala Night in the CityWest Hotel on Friday.

GPA Hurling Player of the Year Nominees: L Corbett (Tipperary), M Fennelly (Kilkenny), B Maher (Tipperary), T Walsh (Kilkenny).

Christy Ring Player of the Year Nominees: J Clarke (Westmeath), T Murnane (Kerry), J O’Neill (Wicklow), P Braniff (Down).

Nicky Rackard Player of the Year Nominees: M Mythen (London), P McCormack (Armagh).

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