Members of Portadown’s Tir na nOg GAA Club are delighted this week at receiving £50,000 from the People’s Millions Lotto Fund to develop an unused part of their grounds at Ballyoran.
The windfall follows a phone-in vote on UTV where Tir na nOg were pitted against a project in Belfast, involving a cross-community effort shared between the Shankill and Ardoyne.
But when the votes were counted, the Portadown club won, thanks to members of the local community, the club and their fellow GAA clubs supporting them.
“We’re absolutely delighted,” said development officer Michael Laverty. “It means we can go ahead and build the outdoor gym we have been planning for some time. It’s the latest of a number of schemes at our club, not to mention one of the best playing seasons in our history.”
The gym will consist of keep-fit equipment like exercise bicycles in the area close to the touch-line of the pitch. It will be used as a warm-up area for the players and as a fitness area for the community at large – from children to pensioners - and regular use is anticipated.
There were four hand-outs by the fund, and six were nominated. Two of the groups concerned each made the plea on UTV over three nights. There was one winner each night, and the ‘champion runner-up’ also received the grant.
Tir na nOg made their ‘play’ on the Tuesday night, and were told on Wednesday that their bid was successful. “We’re glad we didn’t have to sweat it out for the runner-up spot,” said Michael. “We were immediate winners and that really pleased us.”
Work will start on the project early in the New Year and it will be ready in plenty of time for the start of the 2014 season.