In the midst of a global pandemic, Roscommon GAA officials and their supporters organisation, Club Rossie, delivered over €905,000 profit for the county board as 2020 drew to a close.

The profit came from a fundraiser that offered the prize of a luxury Ballymore apartment in London City Island worth €815,000.

This latest venture was again organised by Club Rossie, the voluntary commercial and fundraising arm of Roscommon GAA, and launched in December 2019.

It concluded on 31 December with the prize-winner announced and a huge profit secured. The success of this draw follows Roscommon's previous house draw in 2018, for a property in Dublin, which yielded €943,000 in profit.

The latter figure was used to clear existing debts and creditors and the funds from the most recent initiative will go towards the development of the Dermot Earley Centre of Participation and upgrade of Dr Hyde Park.

As county boards across the country the struggle to fund their set-ups, Roscommon and Club Rossie officials demonstrated serious resilience and outside-the-box thinking to raise badly needed funds.

Having been informed by Croke Park some time ago that no development work could commence until existing creditors were fully dealt with, those involved made sure the first step was to clear those existing debts.

"That gave everyone a clean slate heading into 2019," says Roscommon chairperson Brian Carroll.

"It meant that our next venture could actually raise funds for the development of the Centre of Excellence and Hyde park. But, with so many counties doing house draws, we needed to look outside the country, and with the help of our sponsors Ballymore, we did that.

"It’s an ongoing challenge to have these funds set aside for those projects. The day-to-day costs of running the county are massive. But we are currently identifying a suitable location for the Centre of Excellence and we’re waiting back for word of a grant application for the redevelopment of Hyde Park.

"What we want is to bring Dr Hyde Park up to another level in terms of comfort and facilities for players."

"We want facilities that people can come and perform, play or support in comfort. For our spectators and all teams across all codes.

"With the draw it was a constant drive to keep sales going. The arrival of Covid-19 put the draw on the back foot for some time but when we got going everyone put their shoulder to the wheel and through Club Rossie, the board, clubs, social media, Google ads, volunteers, everyone drove it forward.

"The first target was to break even and once we did then we were in bonus territory. We could push on from there."

That they did.

Carroll points out that they are one of the few counties in Connacht without a Centre of Excellence but warns they won’t be carried away with developing a facility on an over-the-top scale.

"We have good players coming through, our minors just won a Connacht title, and we are always paying attention to what comes next.

"We have a full-time strength and conditioning coach working with our underage teams.

"What we want is to bring Dr Hyde Park up to another level in terms of comfort and facilities for players. We would like to incorporate some businesses into the existing external site also and bring the community into it a bit more.

"The Centre of Excellence will have comfortable facilities for our players and some pitches where all teams will know they can prepare and play games.

"We all know there is a gap out there between the top teams and the rest. It’s a difficult gap to close. If you measure the €905,000 profit that we made from the recent draw across the population of Roscommon it works out at €15 per head.

"That’s the level we have and really we can’t be going after the same people all the time for fundraising. There is only so much you can do.

"But we are taking it in phases, looking after our own development, keeping players coming through and trying to get our facilities right.

"Everyone has worked really hard on this but it was and is a constant challenge and now we go to the next stage."