Mountain South planning application submitted

Galway United hope to develop the facility on a phased basis

Throughout the past few decades there has been one enduring problem for Galway United: facilities.

Now, though, there is hope that a training complex can be constructed at Mountain South. Galway United board member Emmett Hartigan has been working on the project and is eager for the club to develop facilities – providing planning permission is granted - on a phased basis.

“It could take 15 or 20 years and some of it may never be realised, however if you come to the most likely situation this will be built on a phased basis,” Hartigan says.

“If we had a full sized Astro pitch and a full sized grass pitch that is a game changer for our academy and first team straightaway. We would have somewhere to call home, you could call that phase one.

“In timeframes I would imagine it will take three to six months before we find out about getting planning permission granted. After that you have to fund it.

“The funding is a whole other question, there will be the availability of loans, we don't know yet, if we got planning permission, what the Comer brothers may contribute, if they make a further endowment on what they are already giving the club - which is astronomical money.

“There is also the money we currently pay on rent to other clubs and facilities that will be factored in to basically paying a mortgage on that phase one plan.

“When we sat down to design Mountain South we looked at loads of other facilities, Gerry Heaney, head of athletic development for the academy has done untold work on this. We have to give him a huge amount of credit - visiting other facilities and places. The approach we took is we wanted to develop a masterplan.”

Having some pitches operational within a couple of years is a realistic target according to Hartigan. “It is possible that within two years we could be looking at something concrete out there that is usable,” he adds.

“That would be quite aspirational with no stumbling blocks, but within two years there could be a phase one element of it with one Astro pitch and one grass pitch. That is what I would be looking at, that would be my aspiration.”

The development at Mountain South – which are expected to involve Connacht Hockey also – would be a significant addition for United, who field teams at U14, U15, U17, U19, and senior level in national competition.

“It is probably more encouraging from an external perspective because we have been working away at this in the background for a very, very long time,” Hartigan says. “It has been a bit of a slog to get it to this stage where we are in a position to apply for planning. There were a couple of stumbling blocks on the road, there may be more stumbling blocks.

“We haven't been granted planning, that is really important to say, but we have worked with the planners in the county council, and we have addressed any concerns they have. We really feel like we should be in quite a strong position. It is an incredibly exciting time and it really could put us in a situation that the club has never really been in before - to have a home of our own.

“As fantastic as some of the local clubs have been in renting our facilities to us - clubs like Maree-Oranmore with our Academy and Salthill Devon where our senior team trains, and other clubs. To progress for the long term future we have to have a home of our own. From that point of view it is suddenly looking that it might be possible.”

There is a willingness to improve training opportunities for talented players in the region. “Johnny Glynn as head of our academy is really pushing hard to increase the training hours for the academy players,” Hartigan explains.

“Johnny is always telling us about European norms for elite footballers, it is close on 16 hours a week for football. It seems like such a huge amount, currently our guys are getting between eight and 10, depending on match time.

“That puts a huge demands on facilities and we are trying to figure that in. If we are going to get up to the level across the island in the League of Ireland developing young players of the calibre that they do from the continent and other countries, you have to be looking at those kind of stats. They are the things we are pushing towards all of the time.

“Having our own facility like that suddenly means you are not trying to secure time working around other clubs schedules. Of course they have their own schedules.

**Listen to the full interview about Mountain South with Galway United board member Emmett Hartigan on this week’s ‘Cian on Sport’ podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.


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