Thurles Sarsfields GAA club are nearing the completion of phase 1 of the redevelopment of Arus na Sairsealaigh, situated in the shadow of Semple Stadium , in the home of the GAA.
The club, renowed for glory days and famous triumphs on the field of play in both hurling and football, has grown enormously in recent times thanks to the addition of camogie and ladies football teams. But, with that explosion in size, has come a responsibility to ensure that players, mentors, members and those using the facilities are looked after appropriately in terms of facilities. And, the hard working committee under the Chairmanship of Michael Maher, whose father John captained Tipperary to All-Ireland glory in 1945 - the oldest ever All-Ireland winning captain at the age of 37 - have paved the way for Arus na Sairsealaigh to be a multi-faceted, ultra modern and spacious facility.
The work is being undertaken in two phases and the great thing is that local contractors have been used where possible, with has resulted in a number of club members actually working on the building.
The first phase, costing in the region of 300,000 Euro has seen the addition of three spacious, modern dressingrooms with two of those adjacent to the Outside Field, and the third situated close to the sportshall. This third dressingroom can be used by all using the facilities in the hall and Sarsfields are delighted that so many local organisations avail of the facilities week in, week out.
The external facade of the building has also been up-graded while other essential repairs have been undertaken too including the replacment of gutters, roof repairs and the up-grading of the boiler system.
The new section of the building is entirely wheelchair accessible with no steps whatsoever used. And, the plan is the ensure that phase 2 will bring the older section in line as well, with plans in train to install a lift to the second floor to allow for all access to the meeting room and sportshall viewing area.
Phase 2 will involve the redevelopment of the current building to include new access areas, reception area, toilet facilities and an overhaul of the bar area. This work will take place in due course and the club is determined to ensure that everything will be undertaken in the correct manner and at an appropriate time - that is to say, when it can be afforded.
Fundraising for the redevelopment is underway having been kicked off by former club player and former Mayor of North Tipperary County Council, Cllr John Kennedy who made a substantial contribution to the fund. And, the club is embarking upon a white collar boxing spectacular with nighbours Moycarkey Borris on St Patrick’s weekend ( Sunday March 16th) in the Outside Field with a Big Top circus marquee to be used to ensure maximum comfort, viewing and capacity for the huge anticipated event.
Now, the clubs have locked horns on many occasions down through the years on the field of play, and usually any form of boxing would result in sanction from the man in the middle. But, this time round, it will be no holds barred and both clubs are really looking forward to the event which is capturing the imagination. Tickets cost just 20 Euro and a great night of fun is guaranteed - provided you are not in the ring that is !!
Back to the redevelopment though. Club Chairman Michael Michael is very happy with the way the work has progressed and is looking forward to the facilities being used.
“This is something we had been looking at for some time and we are delighted really with the way it has worked out. People are delighted to see us moving in this direction - it is something we had to do due to the increased activity with camogie and ladies football and there is general concensus that this is a very positive step for the club,” he said.
Treasurer Philip Leahy concurred and pointed out that the idea of the fundraising is to try and keep borrowings to a minimum. The officers, which also includes Secretary Tom Callanan, had managed to put some cash aside from the club Lotto and this is now being turned into bricks and mortar so that supporters can physically see where the proceeds from their tickets are going.
“Work like this costs money but we felt we had to do the work and thanks to the Lotto we had some cash. We are fundraising to try and keep our borrowings to a minimum, but we will have to borrow funds and of course that will have to be paid back. We have a plan in place and hopefully it can work out for us. There are a lot of people working to keep the club going on so many fronts and that is great to see,” Philip said.