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Convoy site mustn’t be allowed become a ‘ghost centre’

The site of the Donegal Centre of Excellence in Convoy.

THIRTY Five days: that is the length of time that Donegal GAA has to raise €100,000, which is to aid in the drawdown of a €250,000 grant from Croke Park for the development of the Donegal Centre of Excellence in Convoy.

Thirty five days from now will be the final day in May. That is the ambitious date laid down by the county finance committee, by which they hope to have found 200 individuals to contribute €500 to the development of the facility.

Croke Park have all but given assurances that they will sanction the granting of €250,000 to Donegal, if this county comes up with €125,000 of their own funds. In other words, for every €1 Donegal can put up, Croke Park will put up €2.

The economics of it all makes it a no-brainer. By hook or by crook, Donegal has to find the funds – this is a golden opportunity that can’t be allowed to pass.

A fund-raising committee has been set up, under the banner of Club Tir Chonaill, spearheaded by Danny Harkin. Last evening, Thursday, they were to convene in Burt to brief Inishowen clubs in a bid to garner some support. Further meetings will be held in other areas of the county in the coming weeks as the efforts step up to meet the deadline.

Meetings alone won’t solve the dilemma, however. In this instance, the mountain most certainly won’t come to Mohammed. Rather, Mohammed has something of a mountain to climb himself, but at the peak there lies a rich reward – in the form of a grant from GAA HQ thatwill allow the county to finally be able to get the Centre of Excellence the touches it requires for its gates to be swung upon next winter.

The likes of Development Officer Michael McMenamin and the Co Treasurer Grace Boyle have done invaluable work and spent countless hours of effort on this project. Their endeavour should not be in vain. A monumental effort is needed in the next month to enable officials to go back to Croke Park and make the case, this time with a pot of gold in tow – but it’s something that isn’t beyond the county.

The lead here must come from the top. A County Executive comprises around 20 officers. In addition to the newly-established fund-raising committee, it is from here that action has to be seen.

Pleas from county managers, county players or, indeed, county board won’t be enough to ensure that this money comes in. 200 people have to be spoken to in person, doors have to be knocked on.

Last August, 30,000 Donegal fans flocked to Croke Park for an All-Ireland semi-final, riding on a wave of euphoria that swept the county last summer. That is the image that can convince someone to dip – people must feel part of it.

The term Centre of Excellence can make this development seem elitist – but that it is far from. Sure, county teams will use it as a base, but everyone from the ladies, currently banished to Drumboe, the hurlers and the camogie players, not to mention the development squads, schools, colleges, Go Games will benefit. To use a phrase from Mark Conway, the Club Tyrone official who addressed the launch of this fund-raising scheme a few weeks ago, this project is for everyone from the ordinary to the extraordinary to the not-so ordinary.

It’s a long-term project, but one that is vital to get Donegal on a keel with counties like Derry, Monaghan, Louth and Tyrone, who either have use of such a facility or are well on their way in the development of one.

Two pitches sit almost ready for use in Convoy – this fund-raising drive can push them over the line.

At the minute, the landscape is littered with ghost estates, lasting monuments in every corner to the craziness of Celtic Tiger Ireland.

The choice for the site at Convoy is this: A Centre of Excellence of which Donegal GAA can be immensely proud; or a project that could be in danger of becomming a ‘ghost centre’ that will forever leave the lingering ‘what if’ as we drive past.

There won’t be a second chance. The nettle must be grasped.

Now.

 

Has GAA become consumed by Premiership’s sack race?

TIME was when National Football League results didn’t particularly matter.

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It seems like an age ago when all that mattered was the Championship. That is still true now alright, but there does seem to be more of an emphasis on League performances and results. Championship is still the only show in town, but it is now a cause of grave concern if counties are showing poor form during the Springtime – just ask John Evans, Val Andrews or Gerry Cooney. Perhaps even take a peek at Seamus McEnaney’s last couple of weeks.

Evans (Tipperary), Cooney (Offaly) and Andrews (Cavan) are no longer in management having started the campaign wearing a Bainisteoir bib.

Evans resigned as Tipp boss, when there were no moves from either players or Board, to get rid of him. An inexorable slide to Division 4 led Evans to call it a day, saying he could no longer take the setbacks.

Cooney stepped down after Offaly were relegated to Division 4, following a meeting with the players, while Val Andrews’ future was decided when Cavan’s players decided that they wanted a new guide.

And last Wednesday night, McEnaney only survived a cull in Meath after the Corduff man was subject to a vote at a heated and tense county committee meeting in Navan, a motion for him to be ousted failing to garner the necessary two thirds majority to force him out.

In the murky multi-million dollar Premiership cross-channel, the ‘sack race’ is in full swing from the off – and I can’t help feeling that the same culture is creeping into Gaelic Games with the heightened pressure that is on teams these days.

WHO? WHERE? WHEN?

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YOU’LL notice an absence of a fixture list for the All-County League from this newspaper, and the other leading papers in Donegal this week. To save the switchboard from jamming, there’s a perfectly good explanation for their absence which I’ll explain: We didn’t get any prior to our deadline.

The Donegal News prides itself on its sports coverage – but the GAA in the county is hardly aiding the promotion of its games with the lack of basic information being circulated to the local media.

If we don’t know who’s playing where, and when, it gets a little difficult for us to give the games the column inches their supporters crave. On the website they may well be, but in a format that isn’t transferrable to these pages – and, remember, there are plenty of ardent followers of the games who don’t have access to the internet.

This newspaper – and we aren’t alone – has experienced great difficulty in receiving information in terms of fixtures and results since the beginning of the League season.

Can any of the papers be faulted if we decide not to preview the next series in the absence of a fixture list?

c.mcnulty@donegalnews.com

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