Last Saturday morning was a busy one for the Irish football journalist and fan, amongst the distractions of the post-match discussions surrounding the costly loss of Captain Coleman after the Ireland Wales clash, we also had to deal with a full round of League of Ireland fixtures taking place while in Tallaght there was an event to mark the official opening of Shamrock Rovers’ floodlit FIFA Pro All Weather Pitch at their academy.
The Hoops have been tenants of Roadstone’s Sports and Social club at Kingswood for the past three years but, following significant financial investment over the winter, all their teams – including now their first team – are training at the venue.
The official opening of their pitch marked the completion of the initial phase in the development for their academy and youth development centre which also includes significant upgrades to pitches and the floodlight infrastructure. The Hoops are hoping to move on to Phase Two soon and are working on finalising the financial arrangements to fund the next development - this will include additional full size dressing rooms, a teaching area, gym and physio space.
The academy will be home for all Shamrock Rovers teams from u8s to the senior team, catering for to up 250 children and young people training at elite level each week. In addition, the club aim to host community groups and football camps at the venue.
Back at their stadium in Tallaght, South Dublin County Council secured planning approval in January for the construction of a new 2,195 seater south stand. The project is due to be issued for tender in the summer, with work due to commence after the conclusion of this season’s league campaign.
Their academy pitch at Roadstone was officially opened last Saturday by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr. Katherine Zappone, and the CEO of the FAI John Delaney.
Speaking at the event Minister Zappone said that “today we celebrate a great partnership between the Roadstone Group Sports Club, Shamrock Rovers, the FAI and Government Departments. Together we are helping young people discover the passion, energy and excitement at the heart of football.”
At the opening everyone was keen to stress the co-operative nature of the development which was part funded through a Sports Capital Grant of €150,000 and investment organised by Rovers Director Ray Wilson.
John Delaney noted that “this development demonstrates the work that is being done as a collective at Shamrock Rovers. Phase One of the project is a major first step in the club’s pathway of excellence from under 8s right through to the club’s first team, following in the principles of the FAI’s Player Development Pathway.”
Later on last Saturday, there were some comments about the lack of collective co-operation between the FAI and Shamrock Rovers after the Hoops had two players missing from their Saturday evening 2-1 defeat to St. Pat’s. Michael O’Connor and Trevor Clarke were unavailable for domestic action for Rovers as they were on Ireland u19 international duty (see here).
At the pitch opening though, Shane Robinson (Shamrock Rovers’ Academy Director) noted that the new facilities now in place and the future ones planned are “a huge boost to everyone connected to the club.
“It is only eight years ago that we played our first game nearby this site in Tallaght Stadium. The opening of this pitch is another significant milestone for the club as it provides the platform to embed the club in the local community.
“It will give kids from the area a chance to fulfil their dreams of one day being a professional footballer. One day we hope to produce full International players from our academy and this day marks a huge step forward in this process.”
Big day today as we officially open the FIFA Pro All Weather Pitch and Phase 1 of the Academy development. pic.twitter.com/cmFFfEEF3w— Shamrock Rovers F.C. (@ShamrockRovers) March 25, 2017
Macdara Ferris is a contributor since 2007 to Hoops Scene (Shamrock Rovers' match day programme) and the co-author of Tallaght Time: Shamrock Rovers 2009 to 2012. He still believes that one day he will see Rovers win the FAI Cup. The first international game he attended was Luxembourg being dispatched 2-1 at Lansdowne Road by Jack Charlton's Ireland team.
He has been a writer with extratime.ie since 2012 covering the League of Ireland, the Irish National team and a few Champions League finals. He has also been known to pop up in far flung places like Ballybofey, Belfast, Berlin and Brazil to report for extratime.
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