GAA President Aogan O’Fearghail will be among the guests at Thursday’s Ruislip Development Ground Breaking Ceremony.
It will be an ‘historic occasion’ for the association according to London County Chairman Noel O’Sullivan, who is thrilled that work will commence in early June on the redevelopment of the Emerald GAA Grounds.
“We are looking forward to it because it will be an historic occasion for the GAA in London,” O’Sullivan told the Irish Post on Monday. “It is a very big development which will help people now and in the future.”
“There is no doubt that it has been a long struggle to get to where we are now, but it is a relief that the sod will be turned. It is a relief because people have fought hard for this to happen. It will give the GAA in London a boost and we are excited about the opportunity of hosting games, both club and inter-county at the venue when it is completed.
We had a few problems with planning and there were a few hiccups. Finally we’ve got everything in place now. We probably thought we’d be well into it by now planning for the future. For us it is brilliant to have been given the go ahead, we are looking forward to it.”
O’Sullivan admitted that fundraising work will continue in the coming weeks and months as London GAA chiefs want the venue to be refurbished for the May 29, 2016 Connacht Championship clash with Mayo in Ruislip.
“The challenge now is for us to raise the remainder of the funds we need, but we are very confident of doing that,” O’Sullivan said. “On Thursday we will re-launch one of our fundraising drives.”
O’Sullivan has been encouraged by the response of the Irish business community in London. “Everyone has been extremely supportive towards us since this project started particularly Irish business people. They’ve really rowed in behind us and what we are trying to achieve. Overall we are encouraged by the positive reaction we’ve received.
“It is important that we get this done as quickly as possible in order for everything to be in place for our Connacht Championship game in 2016. We wanted work to start early in June so the contractors will have enough time to complete the work. There shouldn’t be any problem having the work finished by then.”
Paul Coggins is busy preparing London for an interesting May 24 clash with Roscommon which will be the last inter-county fixture played at the ‘old Ruislip’ according to O’Sullivan.
“It should be a nice occasion in May when Roscommon visit for the Connacht Championship game. We are hearing that there is a big crowd travelling over from Roscommon for it which is good to hear.
“There is no doubt that it will be a huge day with it being the last Connacht Championship game played at the old Ruislip. It will be an important and memorable occasion for us.”