DANESFORT GAA club have taken the first steps on what is expected to be a near E1 million development over the next decade or so.
Some months ago the club completed the purchase of five additional acres of land adjacent to their grounds on the Waterford Road at Danesfort Cross, and the heavy machinery has moved in to commence work on Phase 1 of the development project.
During Phase I the club will develop a new full size (145x90m) playing pitch with a 1.1 kilometre walk/running track around the perimeter of the entire grounds.
Later, in Phase 2 of the project, the club intends to build a Clubhouse, complete with four dressing-rooms, a ball wall and an all weather playing facility that can be used throughout the year.
“The club has out-grown its current facilities,” explained club chairman, Martin Tynan when he spoke about a project he said belonged to the local community.
“Additional playing areas were required, so there was no choice but to expand and develop. Really, this project started the best part of a decade ago when the then club officers had the foresight to start building up a development fund,” he added.
Wanted to expand for years
The club has been endeavouring to expand its grounds for years. The preferred choice always was to enlarge the acreage at Danesfort Cross, but other serious options were examined.
However, last year land at the back end of the existing grounds, at the Foulkstown end, were purchased from the Barry family, who have always been strong supporters of the club.
The expansive club grounds now stretch to over 13 acres, and these will eventually accommodate three pitches – including an all weather facility – new Clubhouse and parking area.
The completion of the purchase opened the way for what will be the biggest ever undertaking by the outfit that has over 420 (260 juveniles) registered members.
The completion of Phase 1 will cost in excess of E300,000, which includes the purchase and planned development work. All going well, the new playing field will be ready for use next season.
While the availability of funding will dictate the pace of the work, club officers are optimistic and they are already working on plans and design details for Phase 2 of the project.
The hope is that Danesfort will be in a position to seek planning permission for Phase 2 at the back end of the year. All going well, work could commence on this stage of the development in late spring of 2012, but the project will be on-going for a number of years after that.
A covered seated viewing area for spectators is part of the long term plans, as is the illumination of the walk/running track that will eventually have a tarmac surface.
“The main part of the development was the purchase of the land,” insisted Mr Tynan. “Getting that opened all the doors for us. These may be difficult financial times, but there is no ideal time to commence an undertaking like this.
“There is a great community spirit in Danesfort, and we have received tremendous support from people.
“A GAA club should be at the heart of the community,” Mr Tynan continued. “We don’t have a village or anything like that as our centre. Over the last five years the Community Centre and housing for the elderly have been developed in Danesfort and we see our club development as a further expansion of facilities in the parish.
“This is not just for people who play Gaelic games. It is for everyone who is supportive of community projects.”
The club held an Extraordinary General Meeting in order to get the green light from members for the project. While there was some concern about the timing because of the harsh financial times, once the diggers started work the reaction was hugely positive.
Scores of Danesfort GAA club members have contributed to the development over the years, knocking on doors, fund raising and so on. About 10 months ago the Danesfort Parish and GAA Lotto was introduced, and funds generated through that will be crucial to the success of the venture.
“That is critical going forward,” the chairman insisted. “People are now very positive because they can see where all the money is going.”
The club had been stockpiling the cash. The fund-raising for the development commenced when the World Sheep Shearing championship were hosted by Danesfort nearly a decade ago.
This year the club held their eight annual golf classic, funds from which are also channelled exclusive into the development account. Under the watch of former chairmen Dick Mahony, Pat Treacy and Tom O’Neill (Ballyda) the reserves were slowly built up before the latter set-up the purchase of the additional land.
“We still have a sizeable loan that would worry a lot of people, but we are delighted with the success of the Lotto,” Mr Tynan explained. “The success of the Lotto has enabled this to happen now as against putting it off for some time in the future.”
On Sunday, September 11 the Danesfort club will host a Family Day in the grounds. A Youth Committee is organising a 10-kilometre walk – people can run too – to coincide with the Family Day.
This is a fund-raiser to help develop the walk/running track. Afterwards everyone will be entertained by the club as a sort of ‘thank you’ for all the support people have given through the Lotto and other fund raising ventures.
These won’t be just facilities for Danesfort, the club insisted. The hope is that more club games will be staged at the venue in the future seeing that the grounds are only around 10 minutes drive from Kilkenny City and are within a stone’s throw of the M9 motorway.
When the all weather facility is developed it will run up to the new, two-story Clubhouse, which will overlook all three pitches. The existing dressing-rooms (2) near the entrance to the grounds on the Sevenhouses Road will eventually be remodelled to house a gym or some other facility.
“This is all part of the long term plan,” the chairman insisted. “The current officers are only continuing the work started by others before them. We have been greatly encouraged by the reaction of people. With their help and co-operation we will see the project through to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible.”
Senior Club Executive - chairman, Martin Tynan; vice-chairman, Finbar Kelly; secretary, Maurice Woodcock; treasurer, J.J. Reddy; registration officer, Helen Devane; PRO, Pat Murphy.
Sub-Committees - Chairmen, Pascal Slattery (field); Finbar Kelly (Lotto); Dave Allan (Communications and Web page); Jim Fennelly (County Board rep);
Development Committee - chairman, Liam McGree; secretary, Bill Hackett. Committee - Ger Woodcock, Helen Devane, Angelo Cullen, Peter Davis, Liam Mullen, Martin Tynan, Anthony Dunne, J.J. Reddy, Thomas O’Neill
Juvenile Club - chairman, Ted Walsh; vice-chairman, Eoin O’Neill; secretary, John Cooney; treasurer, John Nolan; registration officer, Mary Tynan.