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GAA club and Orange Lodge get share of £2.5M sports fund

A South Armagh gaelic football club and a Markethill Orange Lodge are to receive their share of a massive £2.5 million sporting investment announced today (Wednesday).

In all, seven new top of the range sports pitches will be provided across the Province – four at Orange Lodge grounds and three at GAA clubs.

The windfall was announced by Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey during a visit to Maguiresbridge Loyal Orange Lodge, one of the recipients.

Locally, Dromintee Gaelic Football Club will receive £249,521 to provide a new grass pitch and walking track.

And at Markethill, Kilcluney LOL 132 are to provided funding to extend the existing 3G pitch to full size. The costs in relation to this project – which is also receiving financial support from Armagh City and District Council – have yet to be determined.

The new Regional Shared Sports Facility pilot programme, which will see an estimated investment of £2.5million, aims to support the development of facilities that will enable divided and isolated communities to establish new friendly relations.

Seven new sports pitches will be provided at various locations across Northern Ireland.

Speaking during a visit to the site at Maguiresbridge, Minister Storey said: “Sport breaks down barriers and unites people in a common interest.

“However, there are a number of areas across Northern Ireland where access to sporting facilities is limited. This pilot scheme will not only help address community and social division but will remove barriers in terms of opportunities to avail of healthy activities.”

The five other recipients are: Eoghan Ruadh, GFC, Dungannon, New grass pitch and walking track- £417,800.; Newry & Mourne Council/Valley Rangers Football Club, Kilkeel, new 3G pitch – £246,971; Fivemiletown District & Cultural Association, (Roughan) new 3G pitch – £290,406; Tullylish GFC, Gilford, New grass pitch and walking track – £429,798.

Maguiresbridge LOL is the first group to receive funding.

The Maguiresbridge Pitch Development and Management Committee was established in May 2013 to develop and bring forward a shared facility project to develop community relations in the Maguiresbridge and surrounding areas.

The Committee acquired the site at a cost of £30,000 for the purpose of developing a 3G pitch for the local community in this rural area.

The Department for Social Development funding of £284,000 will help towards the construction of a new pitch and include fencing, a footpath and floodlights to facilitate night time use.

It is intended that work on all seven projects will be completed by the autumn.

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