Training base will put Armagh ladies football on the map: Reel
by Diarmúid Pepper
“This facility is a boost not just for the team themselves, but for ladies football in general.”
These were the words of Armagh Ladies Chairperson Sinead Reel spoke as she overlooked McKeever Park in Killean, which is set to become the site of the first ever ladies-only inter county training facility.
McKeever Park belonged to the now defunct Killean GAC and will soon become a training complex that will put Armagh ladies football on the map.
“We are hoping to have a full pitch here. We have had to lengthen and widen the field. We will also have a training area and dugouts,” said Sinead Reel whilst scanning the area.
Reel then went into further detail about the ambitious plans, which are set to cost around £800,000.
“We will have full training facilities with a gym, a viewing gallery, kitchen and catering facilities, toilet and showering facilities, something that the whole of the community can avail of as well as ourselves.”
Reel said she was “very proud but also very frightened” as the team embark on becoming the first ladies inter county team to have their own training base.
There have been many barriers to the grand project, but Reel has been more than up to the challenge.
“As regards this initiative, I have perhaps been someone hard to say no to!
“I am delighted to drive this on. It is a great opportunity for ladies football and I hope that the provincial council in the LGFA row in behind this.”
For Reel, the dream is to usher in a generation of young girls who will only know Armagh ladies to have first-class training facilities.
McKeever Park will be far removed from what the Armagh ladies team has had to put up with thus far.
“We have a base in Silverbridge this year which has been great. They have really helped us out.
“But up until this year we were dependant on different clubs from one week to the next. We had girls travelling from all over to train, only to find locked gates and be told to go somewhere else.
“Then we were going to some facilities with no toilets and it is not really acceptable in this day and age for anyone to have to use inadequate toilet facilities when training or not being able to leave a training session because the toilets were so far away.”
These factors and more drove Reel to push ahead with this scheme.
“This will, for every girl from Crossmaglen to Lurgan, be accessible to all in ladies football,” said Reel of McKeever Park.
“We are one of the smaller counties so if we can do it what is to stop anyone else from doing it. This will really put ladies football on the map.”
All of this also bodes well for the strength of the ladies team, which Reel feels will really push on the county squad.
“I think having this facility for us will drive more girls on to play for their clubs and then to push on to make the county stronger.
“This will help us compete with the bigger counties. We don’t want to be afraid and just sit back and accept what has been happening in the past.”
Armagh ladies have launched a gofundme campaign where donations can be made: www.gofundme.com/armagh-lgfa-development-fund