*St Josephs Doora/Barefield are hoping to extend the astro-turf pitch in Gurteen.

Three Clare clubs are pursuing facility upgrades ahead of the long-anticipated await of the return of competitive GAA to the county this year.

Clonlara, The Banner and St Josephs Doora/Barefield GAA clubs have all submitted planning files and are working hard behind the scenes to provide a better platform for future player development.

Banner GAA Public Relations Officer (PRO) Liam O’ Reilly stated that an application submitted for an extension to the existing hurling wall and the construction of a new gym facility came from a club rebirth eight or nine years ago and with that arrived a “huge influx of underage talent within the club.”

Having secured promotion to the Junior A hurling championship and with a steady growth in underage teams and a focus on strength and conditioning, a good gym facility is warmly welcomed, he added. The hurling wall constructed seven years ago has “been of great value but very tight. We left room to expand it in the future.”

Banner GAA are currently working on several grant applications, including a Sports Capital Grant. Subject to successful planning and funding, Liam believes that the new wall, and detached club gym could be operational by the end of the year. In the meantime, online programmes have been put in place for underage teams through Zoom since January of this year. These include a mixture of ball wall work and strength and conditioning. “We had to get everyone going. It’s very frustrating but everyone is in the same boat. We are waiting on indication of when we can return for some sort of non-contact training,” he stated.

St Josephs Doora/Barefield have submitted a planning application to extend the existing astro turf pitches at Gurteen to include an additional 40m x 25m pitch, metal posts, perimeter fencing, two additional light poles and all ancillary site works. Club Chairman Robert Hurley stated that this stemmed from max capacity being reached last year.

He added: “We have a lot of members at underage level and an extra ground is needed for teams to train on. Last year there was a lot of pressure put on the pitches due to the tight schedule. This extra 25m will really help us out. Depending on planning and funding, this will take about six weeks to construct.”

Since the development of a lower pitch, Clonlara GAA have recognised the need for public toilets, dressing rooms, a garden machinery shed for pitch maintenance equipment and a referee’s room. Club Chairman John Murphy has made this his number one priority and hopes to rectify this situation as soon as planning permission is granted. “We’re blessed in Clonlara to have top tradesmen within our club who are raring to get going on this project,” he stated.

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