Clare GAA secretary Pat Fitzgerald claims he is subject of ‘witch-hunt’ over Caherlohan training base

Fitzgerald claimed there was a “myth” about how much the Caherlohan Centre of Excellence cost
Clare GAA secretary Pat Fitzgerald claims he is subject of ‘witch-hunt’ over Caherlohan training base

Clare County Board secretary Pat Fitzgerald. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Clare secretary Pat Fitzgerald has claimed he is the subject of a ‘witch-hunt’ as the Caherlohan Centre of Excellence was again the subject of criticism at this week’s online county board meeting.

Exasperated with conjecture about the cost of the pitches at Clare GAA’s training base and twice explaining the playing surfaces were not sand-based, Fitzgerald called on delegates to provide him with the amount spent but no figure was forthcoming.

“Will someone tell me because everybody is telling me about the cost of them? Anything that I will give you, I will prove it.

“Not alone has it been sanctioned by one consulting engineer, it has been done by two. One from Croke Park, and one that we had ourselves.

“Will somebody tell me please what is this enormous sum of money that has been spent on the pitches in Caherlohan? Please, because I will tell you if you get a pitch done tomorrow, an ordinary pitch, it is going to cost you €140,000 per pitch, and if you get it cheaper, come back and tell me.

“So will someone please tell me what is the enormous sum that has been spent on the pitches in Caherlohan? I have not reacted to this for a long time, going back two years, and I am very sorry because this thing has gone out of hand. 

“I can tell you that at this stage, I believe myself, that it is a witchhunt on myself which I believe is wrong and unfair. Will somebody tell me what the pitches in Caherlohan cost?”

Myth

Fitzgerald claimed there was a “myth” about how much Caherlohan cost — “There are 56 people logged onto this meeting and nobody has come in to tell me the cost, I’m waiting to hear.”

He revealed €680,000 had been spent on the Caherlohan pitches and claimed the figures being bandied about are sourced from a website. 

Everybody is talking in a vacuum, and unfortunately there is some site, and I don’t get into the social media, that has all the information that everyone is going by. It is on that basis and on the basis of what I hear is on that site, that I suggest there must be a witchhunt against somebody and I think it is myself.”

Meanwhile, Clare senior football manager Colm Collins has confirmed they will be using Caherlohan as their training centre when collective inter-county training resumes from next week.

It is not expected the senior hurlers will utilise the pitch but ahead of their Division 2 South campaign the footballers will be preparing at the resource outside Tulla. 

“Our pitch is perfect, absolutely perfect,” said Collins. “At the start of last year, we rested it and only trained on it one day a week and last winter it was perfect.”

Collins was surprised by the Government’s call not to allow inter-county challenge games this month. It will be May at the earliest before such matches can be played, which falls just 11 days prior to the Allianz Football League, the Banner commencing their campaign against Laois.

“It is one of those bewildering decisions. I can’t understand it. Now that we’re coming back, I don’t see any problem with teams facing each other to help in their preparations but, listen, they are the rules. We’ve stuck with them so far and we’ll continue with them but I thought there would be no problem with them.”

The GAA have confirmed dressing rooms and meeting rooms can be used by senior inter-county teams from Monday. 

“It is permitted to use dressing rooms or hold meetings indoors, but we would strongly encourage you to explore alternatives or minimise usage as much as possible. Keeping the majority of your interactions outdoors is the key measure to follow if you wish to ensure the safety of players and support personnel.”

Collins said Clare will be sticking with their own stringent protocols that served them well in the latter part of 2020. 

“We have our own set-up and we’re very lucky that we have a great guy as Covid officer, Paudie Carmody. We just continue on and follow the way we’ve been doing things. At this stage, we know what to do and what not to do.

“Everything will be outdoors, there will be no dressing rooms, people will get their grub to takeaway and there will be no carpooling to the training sessions. Let’s hope now there isn’t another wave.”

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