BY CHRIS MCNULTY
MINISTER of State for the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley, officially switched on the floodlights at the Donegal GAA Training Centre in Convoy on Thursday night and said those involved in the development had left a ‘legacy’.
The installation of the €345,000 lighting system, manufactured by the American-based Musco Lighting and installed by McSherry’s of Cork, is the latest step in the development.
Thursday night’s switch on was performed after a training session of the Donegal senior football team, one of the many teams now using the facility.
“It is the culmination of an awful lot of work over the last few years,” said Donegal county chairman Sean Dunnion.
“The pitches are in absolutely fantastic shape. The turning on of the lights sees us finish phase one and we now have a facility that we can use 365 days of the year. We’re very excited about this.
“The pitches are in use all the time – and we have been crying out for it for years.”
McGuinness, members of his backroom team and panel attended the switch-on with members of the County Board and others including members of the Club Tir Chonaill group whose fundraising efforts were so vital.
Development officer Michael McMenamin explained that the lighting system was guaranteed for ten years having been tested two weeks ago.
“It has been a while in coming,” McMenamin said.
“The floodlighting was essential and it means now we can use these pitches in the winter time.”
Already, a host of county teams have used the facility. The senior and minor footballers are based there, as are the ladies footballers, the hurlers, development squads and, of late, a camogie team had been training at the €2.4million complex.
McMenamin said: “It’s been very busy – so busy that I’m actually turning teams away now. A lot of teams want to train Tuesday and Thursday or Saturday mornings.
“We had the lights tested two weeks ago. They divided the pitch into grids and took 135 readings on both pitches and it’s actually twenty per cent better than what we ordered.”
Minister McGinley said: “I’m delighted to be here. It is a tremendous facility. Great credit is going to the County Board and all those who have contributed to this.”
McGuinness said the facility would be an integral part of his set-up in the coming weeks and months.
“All the officers who have been involved in getting it to this point deserve an awful lot of credit,” the Donegal boss said.
“It has been a while in the making and a while in coming to fruition. In terms of ourselves in the last number of weeks, when we’ve been here all the time, it is a fantastic facility. The quicker we can get the changing rooms and the other pitches the better.
“This is a significant night. It means now that we’ll be able to train under lights here in the winter. That is so important and I’d like to highlight the people who have made this happen.”
Minister McGinley added: “I hope you have great luck and success here. The people who thought of it and who have brought it to fruition have left a legacy for the young people of Donegal for years to come.”
Last weekend’s comfortable 4-10 to 0-1 win against Carndonagh in Inishowen, clinched the Division 4 League title for Convoy.