EXCLUSIVE BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE development of the multi-million euro GAA Centre of Excellence in Convoy is expected to get a massive financial shot in the arm in the coming days.
The Donegal News understands that in the region of €300,000-€350,000 is to be allocated to the project under the next round of Sports Capital Grants – which are expected to be confirmed before Christmas.
Donegal’s ambitious development at a 26-acre site in Convoy is believed to be earmarked for a slice of the €4million to be divided among regional and national projects.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Deputy Joe McHugh confirmed that he had met the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, on Wednesday and voiced his support for the Donegal development.
“I have met with Donegal County Board about the proposed Centre of Excellence at Convoy; the planned Centre would be very important for youth development. I have emphasised its importance to the Minister,” said Deputy McHugh.
“Building on success is critical, and Donegal’s success in 2012 presents us with a historic opportunity to move forward. Clubs in the county are doing great work at community level, and the County Board is a very active executive in driving Donegal GAA forward.
“The senior players who did us so proud on the field of play throughout the year, are working very hard throughout the county this winter as ambassadors for the game, and will continue to be role models for young players into the future.”
The expected windfall will enable Donegal officials to erect a dressing room facility at the development. Donegal have applied for €520,000 of funding and while the allocated is expected to be less than that amount, it is believed that the project will be slightly scaled back.
Phase 1 of the development is nearing completion with goal posts and ball stops to be erected on the two grass pitches. Croke Park’s National Infrastructure and Safety Committee recently confirmed funding of €250,000 to go along with the €125,000 raised by the Club Tir Chonaill fund-raising vehicle led by Danny Harkin. The additional funding will enable the erection of a perimeter fence and the installation of floodlights on the two pitches.
The final piece of the current part of the development – which will cost €3.1m – is the building of the dressing rooms, which Donegal officials estimate will cost €700,000. This expected announcement from the Government would be a real boost for county – and would be a fitting way to crown a year in which Sam Maguire made a return to Donegal soil.
Meanwhile, the annual accounts – to be presented by the Co Treasurer Grace Boyle at Sunday’s Convention at the Abbey Hotel, Donegal town – show that in the year ending October 31st 2012, Donegal GAA made a cool profit of €130,763.
Income for the year was just over €1.4m (€1,425,063), with commercial income soaring to €420,915 from the €352,535 the previous year. Sponsorship showed a significant rise in going from €133,000 to €245,663, while Club Donegal took in €126,385.
Expenditure for the year was €1,294,300 and in a year when Donegal won the All-Ireland SFC, it was no surprise that team administration expenses shot to €894,487 – an increase of some €312,549.
€286,083 for team holidays and overnight stays was spent this year – though that figure also includes the €28,860 for the team’s trip to Florida last December as well as the expenses for the forthcoming trip to Dubai.