A new €8 million GAA centre of excellence has been officially opened in Kerry, marking what the county hopes will be the start of a new era of success.
The facility, located in Currans in the heart of the Kingdom, has been 20 years in the making and today's launch is the culmination of long years of fundraising, design, construction, and recent weeks of decoration and final fit-out to the indoor section.
GAA president Larry McCarthy described what Kerry have done as "the gold standard" for other counties to follow.
"It’s a magnificent facility, absolutely fabulous," he said today. "The design and the touches that are here are absolutely brilliant and certainly it could be [followed] by other counties.
"There’s a huge investment by the Kerry diaspora and the Kerry people here as well so that’s obviously a challenge for a lot of counties."
He outlined what others could learn from this example: "How to do it well, how to design it well, architecturally as well as how it’s looking and it’s also a very, very functional building in how it’s constructed."
Aileen Foley, the manager of the centre of excellence, pointed out that the campus contains four full-sized sand-based, floodlit pitches, a large state-of-the-art gym, video analysis room, eight dressing rooms, dining area, and offices and meeting rooms.
"We would have the senior footballers, the senior hurlers, the senior ladies' teams, the minors, under-20s hurling and football, and the underage development squads as well.
The aim is to have them all in one area. In Kerry here, it's so vast, we’re in the centre of Kerry we have one base where they’ll all come in to train and dine and do their gym work and everything like that as well."
The lobby area includes an imposing wall which features the names of all All-Ireland winning players from the inception of the GAA. So it’s a large wall.
"We’re honouring and remembering our medal-holders here in Currans," Aileen Foley said.
County board chairman Tim Murphy said that it is important for a county such as Kerry to introduce the necessary facilities to ensure its place in the GAA into the future.
"It’s important that we have the best facilities to provide for our players, for our management teams, to give them the best opportunities to perform so this is a dream come true I suppose for so many people who have been involved for so many years, and we’re delighted to be able to officially open it today.
"It’s a big statement for Kerry to be able to say that we have what I like to think is one of the best facilities in the country."
All of the county’s inter-county teams will have the use of the Currans base, he said. "It’s a fantastic resource for the entire county, both the inter-county set-ups and the development squads, our coaches and indeed our clubs."