MILEBUSH PARK COMPLEX
The grounds at Milebush Park comprising of approximately 11 acres was purchased in December 1986 by the Mayo Association Football League for a sum of £48,000 plus Stamp Duty and Legal Fees amounting to a further £5,000 - A total in today’s money of approximately €67,000.
In order to pay for the grounds and development works, The Mayo League launched two major fund raising campaigns. The first development of the main pitch was commenced during the period 1987/8 and games were played on the pitch shortly afterwards.
(Photo - Sod turning for Henry Downes Stand 2001 includes - Henry Downes (R.I.P), Brendan Menton (Secretary F.A.I.), Pat King (Chairman Castlebar U.D.C.), Beverly Flynn T.D., Pat Quigley (Chairman Connaught F.A.), Noel M Kennedy (Secretary Connaught F.A.) and Joe Butler (Chairman Mayo League).
The clubhouse was built during 1992 at a cost in excess of £150,000. This was funded by a local contribution of £45,000 (fundraised locally), and an initial Grant from the Department of Education of £50,000. A further Grant of £25,000 was secured for the completion of this project. Local T.D and Minister Padraig Flynn played a major role in securing funding for the project. The clubhouse was officially opened jointly by Michael Hyland (President of the F.A.I.) and Padraig Flynn in 1994.
The early nineties saw Milebush become the “Mecca” of football in Mayo, with all local finals, Colleges Finals and Inter League games being played on the finely manicured surface. The standard of the complex was recognized by the F.A.I. when Milebush hosted an Under 14 International match between the Republic of Ireland and France in 1993, and an Under 21 International match between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in 1997. A comment from the then Northern Ireland manager Laurie McMenamy “Roll it up, and I will bring it home with me”, was evidence of the quality of the playing surface.
The standards at Milebush continued during the nineties when it hosted the Oscar Traynor semi finals and finals in 1997 with the Kilkenny & District league coming out in top in a group of 4 involving Mayo League, Kerry League and A.U.L. Dublin. The upkeep and the maintenance were overseen during this period by the FAS Community Employment Scheme, which ended in 1999.
The floodlit OmniGrass all weather facility was installed in 2003 / 4 at a cost of €1,000,000, which was grant aided to the tune of €700,000 by the Department also – the balance of the funding coming from the Mayo League’s own resources, and from the clubs.
The F.A.I. also recognized the facility when the grounds hosted the F.A.I. Youths Cup Final between Erris Utd. and Lettterkenny Rovers (2004), and a 5 Nation International Under 17 Girls tournament involving Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England , Scotland and U.S.A. The F.A.I Youths Cup Final of 2007 between Castlebar Celtic and Everton from Cork was also played at the venue.
The main pitch at Milebush has in excess of 50 games played on it each year involving local Cup Finals, Inter League fixtures at all grades, Schoolboys / girls and Women’s Finals, Connaught Colleges finals, F.A.I. National trials, Summer Camps.
The OmniGrass facility has approximately 800 to 1000 uses in the season involving coaching, training, club use, 5-a-sides and blitz tournaments. This facility is used day and night whatever the weather, and has been a major factor in the development and success of Mayo teams in recent times.
A FAS Community Employment Scheme was restored in 2002/3 and 2005/6 to upkeep and maintain the facilities.
A 3500 sq ft extension to the Clubhouse / Dressing Rooms was built during 2007 / 2008 consisting of 4 additional Dressing Rooms , Referees Changing Room, Education Room, and an Office.
This was erected together with upgrading the Car Park at a cost of €500,000. The Mayo League secured a further grant of €300,000 from the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism for this venture.
The new facility was jointly opened by David Blood (President of the F.A.I.), John Delaney (C.E.O.) during the Festival of Football in July 2008. (Photo of offical opening of addtional dressing rooms - David Blood (President F.A.I.), Pat Quigley (Chairman of Mayo League and John Delaney (C.E.O. of F.A.I.)
Milebush Park is now an official F.A.I. Regional Centre with many programmes and events taking place as part of the development of the game in the region, including F.A.I. FAS Development Programme, Emerging Talent Programme, National Trials, Coach Education Courses, and Club Training Programmes etc.
In 2013/2014 the Omnigrass pitch was relaid and resurfaced with the latest in artifical turf, This Project was part funded by the department of Transport , Sport and Tourism .
This latest addition was opened by Minister Michael Ring TD in April 2014