Cork County Councillors were today unanimous in their support of a proposal to dispose of Council land in Cork by way of a lease to the Football Association of Ireland.
This decision gives the green light for the development of a Regional Centre of Excellence on a 30.4 acre site at Brooklodge in Glanmire. The site is strategically located near the Dunkettle Interchange, the main access point to Cork City with over a half million population within one hours driving time of the location.
This exciting new development will provide training and playing facilities for players of all ages, coaches, referees and administrators in the Munster area. The facility will be one of three FAI Centres of Excellence located nationally to support the delivery of the FAI’s soon to be launched Player Development Plan which promises to outline a sea change in how young players in Ireland are developed from the earliest stages.
The agreement is also great news for FORAS – Cork City Football Club one of the SSE Airtricity League’s top sides as it will facilitate the long overdue provision of a permanent training base for Munster’s flagship club. Commenting on the announcement Chairman of FORAS – Cork City F.C. Mr. Pat Lyons noted that “there have been two major developments in Cork soccer which together will ensure that soccer is sustainable in Cork into the future. The foundation of FORAS which is a trust owned and run by the supporters of C.C.F.C. and now for the first time in the history of Cork soccer thanks to this development a Cork club will have a permanent base. In the past five years since FORAS took charge there have been some great milestones but this has been a major achievement, not only for Cork City FC but for the wider Cork community and indeed the Munster region in general. The new centre will also act as a catalyst to unify the different strands of football in Munster and provide a venue that football people across the region can access and be proud of”.
The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. John Paul O’Shea said how delighted he was that the FAI’s Centre of Excellence will be located in Cork. “Cork has a proud sporting tradition and has produced many great icons from Christy Ring and Jimmy Barry Murphy to Roy Keane, Ronan O’Gara and Sonia O’Sullivan. Our great county has achieved past successes through enormous dedication and hard work which have long been cornerstones of the Cork mentality. It is fantastic to see that through the collaboration of Cork County Council, the FAI and local stakeholders Munster will have a world class facility to nurture talent and provide development opportunities for generations to come”.
In addition to Cork City FC’s training needs the scope of activities provided for in the new centre will include FAI coach education, emerging talent and referee training programmes, Education and Training Boards local training initiatives, local club matches and community football programmes. Other possible uses include pre-season training for visiting teams, a training base for teams competing in the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, for which Ireland is hosting a minimum of four matches or indeed as a training base for one of the teams competing in the 2023 Rugby World Cup should the IRFU’s bid be successful.
The Chief Executive of Cork County Council Mr. Tim Lucey said “the selection of Cork, and particularly the location at Glanmire, by the FAI to develop this regional centre of excellence recognises not just the strategic positioning of the location but also the wider strengths of Cork for sports development and the capacity of the wider economy to enable the FAI into the future to maximise the potential of this centre. We have worked with the FAI over the past year to facilitate this and the full support of the members of Cork County Council demonstrates the Councils proactive approach to continuing to strengthen Corks leisure, community and economic offering”.
Commenting after the announcement the Chair of the Cobh Municipal District Cllr. Sinead Sheppard added “I am really delighted that Cork County Council has played an important role in providing an FAI Centre of Excellence for Munster. Cork’s rich sporting history is the envy of many and this facility will go a long way to ensuring we can continue to enjoy great success into the future”
The FAI were keen to acknowledge that the development of such a facility would not be possible without the cooperation and hard work of all stakeholders including the local business community in Cork, Cork County Council and key departments within government. They also highlighted that the development will at last provide appropriate infrastructure to foster and develop the football community in the Munster area.