A new dawn beckons for Glasgow Gaels and Scotland GAA as new £4m state-of-the-art sports facility becomes reality
AFTER 19 years of a nomadic existence and playing their games on rugby pitches, the future of Glasgow Gaels has been assured after becoming one of the tenants at a new £4m state-of-the-art sports facility in Clydebank.
The GAA club, founded in 1999, will share the Clydebank Community Sports Hub with Clydebank Rugby Club, Glasgow GTF Tae Kwondo club and Kilpatrick Thistle Football Club when building is completed in September.
The plans will see the existing clubhouse in Whitecrook significantly increased in size and the creation of a floodlit all-weather pitch and 10 community allotments.
The sports clubs sought funding from various sources including the GAA who contributed £300k to the Clydebank facility.
The Scottish government and local council have committed a combined £2m to see the Hub model come to fruition.
GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghaíl paid two visits to the site while out-going Director-General Paraic Duffy took a keen interest in the ambitious project.
"I was delighted to see first hand the new facilities that Glaschú Gaels will have at their disposal and I am confident it will assist their efforts and those of Scotland GAA to promote our games in a city and country with such strong links to Ireland," said Ó Fearghaíl.
"It’s hard to over-estimate the importance of facilities in the organisation of the games. This hub will provide a focal point for all involved and it’s a further example of the GAA investing in our games and our people. I wish everyone involved every success and hope the facilities will serve the GAA community for many years to come."
Glasgow Gaels clubman and Fermanagh native Garry Murphy said: "The ball started rolling in 2011 and we hoped that we would have our own facilities in 10 years time, but to have them in just over seven years is great.
“I think one of the reasons the GAA is funding this is because they’ve got all the money from Sky and with the games being shown over in the UK now a lot of people are getting interested in Gaelic Games. Beforehand people didn’t know where to go to get involved.
“Now Gaelic Games is more mainstream we’re hoping to capitalise on that and with the rugby having the opposite season to us we’re hoping to attract some of their players to Gaelic football in their off-season as they’ll be using the same facility.”
Murphy, a Derrylin clubman, added: “This facility gives us roots, it will give us a home and allows us to build a sustainable future.
“It allows us to have ambition and to have plans moving forward. The most important thing is to have a base. Beforehand we were relying on people over here for work or university [to play for Glasgow Gaels], whereas there are people like myself who have settled here. Up to now, everything depends on the economy which is so transient. If there is anyone half decent over here their clubs fly them back home for games.”
“We’ve been basically nomads, playing on rugby pitches and playing all around Glasgow. Now we’ve got a youth team (U14) for the first time in our history in Clydebank and we know parents won’t take their kids across town to play elsewhere, so that scenario is not sustainable. But having a base will obviously help our youth structures.
“What is unique about this project is that it follows a 'Hub' model whereby a number of sporting clubs have joined forces to form a company (with charitable status).”
Following the 2014 Commonwealth Games, hosted in Glasgow, a legacy fund was set up to encourage more people to become involved in sport.
Along with the GAA, SportScotland, the Scottish Government, West Dunbartonshire Council, the Robertson Trust and Scottish Rugby Union supported the Sports Hub.