Sligo Rovers chairman Dermot Kelly has described the Sports Capital Grant announced by the Department of Sport and Tourism as “a potential game-changer in the history of the club”.

The confirmation of a Sports Capital Grant of €295,000 for Sligo Rovers was announced today.

Chairman Dermot Kelly said: "The funding comes at a vital time and caps what has probably been the best year on and off the field in the history of Sligo Rovers because the club can now make solid medium and long-term plans."

The chairman said funding will allow Sligo Rovers to refurbish the all-weather facility at the Showgrounds and significantly improve the quality of the playing surface.

The planned development will also include a new grass training pitch at the Showgrounds.

“The work will be completed within months and when it is done, the Showgrounds will have infrastructure and facilities, including the new €250,000 Railway End stand to allow Sligo Rovers function and develop as a model community-based club for many years.”

Kelly said the significant support at community and political level had helped to make a persuasive case for the Sligo Rovers application.

"The Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, visited the Showgrounds for a number of high-octane games and witnessed the passion the club generates in all corners of the region.

"Tony Mc Loughlin, a founding member of the club's development committee, backed our application and the active support from all his fellow Oireachtas members, TD’s Minister John Perry, and Michael Colreavy, and Senators Imelda Henry, Susan O’ Keeffe, Marc Mc Sharry, Paschal Mooney and Michael Comiskey also helped our case."

The chairman added that by winning the title this year, Sligo Rovers gave a boost to clubs outside the Dublin metropolitan area.

"The Sports Capital Grant is the perfect Christmas present for the volunteers and supporters who keep the club going through thick and thin.

"In the same way that capital funding from the Department of Sport and Tourism has helped Connacht Rugby to move to a new level, this grant aid allows Sligo Rovers to establish solid foundations as the principal soccer centre in Connacht and the North West.

"It is a new level of challenge but it is also a welcome new phase of opportunity and hopefully we can rise to it."

Sligo chairman Dermot Kelly also paid tribute to Packie Lynch. Kevin Colreavy and Noel Scott for their work in meticulously preparing the club’s funding application and thanked the range of community groups and the wider football family who supported the proposal.

In total €1.2m was given to regional football related capital projects.

The Mayo League have received €260,000 for an all-weather pitch while €250,000 is distributed for a new synthetic pitch at the Meath and District League.

Mervue Utd have been awarded €190,000 for the extension and resurfacing of its all-weather pitch, while €133,000 has been made available for the development of a synthetic pitch at the AUL.

A sum of €60,000 will go to the Galway and District League for dressing rooms and facility development and €24,000 for facility development at the Leinster Football League.

FAI chief executive John Delaney said: "I would like to thank Minister Varadkar, Minister Ring and their Department for the reintroduction of sports capital grants which deliver benefits to communities all over Ireland.

"Investment in sports facilities is immensely beneficial to the health and social fabric of the country and keeps our young people active and engaged in their communities."