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FAI CEO John Delaney performed the official re-opening of the all-weather facility at Leeds AFC. Picture: Larry Cummins
FAI CEO John Delaney performed the official re-opening of the all-weather facility at Leeds AFC. Picture: Larry Cummins
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WATCH: John Delaney opened the new Leeds all-weather facility in the heart of Ballyvolane

THE official opening of the new Leeds AFC all-weather training facility took place recently.

A project that started almost two years ago when Leeds celebrated their 30 years in football was officially opened by FAI Chief executive John Delaney and FAI chairman Tony Fitzgerald.

Also present on the day were ex-Leeds player and current Cork City midfield general Garry Buckley.

The all-weather pitch was opened under the watchful eye of the Leeds members and academy players who later played in a number of games.

Huge thanks have to go to the Leeds committee and all its members for getting this project over the line, in particular, Austin Browne, Ger Meaney, Jason Yelverton, Matt Murphy, John Quirke and Micky Hourihane.

As John Delaney said himself a committee’s goal should be to leave a club in a better condition than they found it. This year’s committee have certainly done that.

Leeds coach James Fogarty is thrilled with the new facility and states the importance of having one at the club.

“The previous all-weather pitch had been in place for over 15 years and was well past its best before date,” said Fogarty. “With this new state-of-the-art training facility we can now cater for all of our schoolboys, youths and Munster Senior League players. 

Trey Crowley (8) shows his soccer skills to David and Billy O'Riordan of Leeds AFC. Picture: Larry Cummins
Trey Crowley (8) shows his soccer skills to David and Billy O'Riordan of Leeds AFC. Picture: Larry Cummins

"Probably the biggest benefactors of this fantastic new pitch is our academy teams. Our academy is currently going from strength to strength and its numbers are starting to return again to what they were 10 years ago. Leeds AFC are proud of its past of being one of the most successful clubs in schoolboy history but are now looking to build to the future.”

Former Leeds player Garry Buckley, now playing with Cork City FC; Billy O'Riordan, John Quirke, Karen Hickey of sponsors Murphy's Rock, Marguerite Cooney with John Delaney, FAI CEO, Ger Meany, Fionn McCarthy, Jason Yelverton, Club Chairman and Mick Hourihan, Club Secretary beside the astro pitch. Picture: Larry Cummins
Former Leeds player Garry Buckley, now playing with Cork City FC; Billy O'Riordan, John Quirke, Karen Hickey of sponsors Murphy's Rock, Marguerite Cooney with John Delaney, FAI CEO, Ger Meany, Fionn McCarthy, Jason Yelverton, Club Chairman and Mick Hourihan, Club Secretary beside the astro pitch. Picture: Larry Cummins

Under the guidance of UEFA A Licence coach Fogarty, the academy is starting to once again produce players of elite quality and for Fogarty and the club, this is what it’s all about.

“Academy players, look at players such as Ciaran Galvin and Leon Ayinde who are already being watched by clubs abroad and that they can follow in their footsteps of being top class schoolboy players.

“The all-weather pitch is a huge asset in helping Leeds to continue its Football For All campaign. Within the academy coaches, we also have coaches from COPE Foundation.

“With over 300 playing members within the club it’s a necessity that we have something that players can train in a safe environment and coaches can train in a facility where they can get the most out of their players.

“The facility is also made available to local clubs and communities as Leeds tries to be at the heart of all the community. Not only is it situated in the centre of the Ballyvolane/Dublin Hill area but we believe it is a central piece of the local community.

“Along with the all-weather pitch during the redevelopment, we also upgraded the grounds’ security. The all-weather pitch is surrounded by a more robust fence and there is also a 24-hour monitored CCTV system installed which benefits both the club but also the local community. 

"The joy of having this facility the club no longer needs to hire other facilities and can invest in other areas such as training equipment and coaching courses so that it benefits the club as a whole."

John Quirke and John Delaney. Picture: Larry Cummins
John Quirke and John Delaney. Picture: Larry Cummins