Connacht GAA secretary John Prenty says he is looking forward to Sligo and Leitrim making history in early January when they meet in the first competitive inter-county game to take place under a roof.

The air dome at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan in Mayo, just outside Knock, will stage the pre-season FBD league competition.

Four knockout games will take place, starting with Leitrim against Sligo on 4 January.

"Once we got word that the pre-season competitions were going ahead, we decided to stage the games in the dome," Prenty says.

"And I'm delighted it's Sligo and Leitrim who will be first up and get the experience of making history.

"All the FBD games will be live-streamed. We have 16 permanent cameras installed and we will use that experience then to see how future games can be best televised going forward."

The air dome cost €3.1 million to complete. Around €2.1 million came from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, €700,000 from Croke Park, with €300,000 from savings by Connacht GAA.

"It didn’t put Connacht GAA in debt," Prenty says.

"And aside from making quality venues available for players to play games, that was the most important thing."

The dome is 26 metres in height at its highest point, 150m in length, 100m wide, has a 30m running track and is capable of holding between 2,500 and 3,000 supporters for GAA games.

"What will happen in early January will be historic," Prenty says.

"But we have been flat to the mat in recent times. We are three weeks inside now with a lot of school games, third level matches and clubs bringing underage teams there for their last session of the year. First of all people are amazed when they see it but the real feedback is centred on the quality of the surface.

"We have recently hosted a very competitive Galway 'A’ Schools football final and a Ladies football colleges’ game between University of Limerick and Letterkenny IT. We have had academy matches between Kerry and Donegal as pitches halfway are hard to access at this time of year.

"This will now be the first opportunity to have a competitive inter-county senior game there. The great thing is that people will know no matter what the weather is like outside on 4 January, the pitch will still be playable. It makes no difference what is happening outside, the conditions will be perfect inside.

"There are seven pitches in all and with the dome there is no reason to call off a game anymore. We could operate it from 9am to 12 midnight and it’s not obtrusive. Most people would not even know you were there."

The dome takes pride of place on an 85-acre site with 63 acres fully developed.

There are 22 acres adjacent that the Connacht Council will hold for the foreseeable future.

"The plan is that this could be used every day of the year, if needed," Prenty adds.

"Obviously if you had a lovely summer there would be five to six weeks where people would prefer to be outdoors.

"But we will hold conferences, school summits, careers events and there is a steady demand. Primarily, we are there to host GAA games and to make quality surfaces and facilities available. That’s what it is all about."