GAA President Christy Cooney will officially open the new Dunloy Cuchullains Sports Academy this Friday evening.

The event will be compered by Michael O Muircheartaigh.

Events will commence with a parade of all club teams through the village at 6.30pm with official ceremony starting at 7.00pm in the Sports Academy itself.

The idea for the Cuchullains Sports Academy - which cost well over 1million - originated from discussions about hurling alleys.

These discussions began about 20 years ago but other ground improvements and developments took priority. For example the building of the new changing rooms and social club, the enlargement of the playing surface and the improvement of spectator accommodation and safety.

These elements were all completed in 2005 with approximately 500,000 spent on these projects.

After these developments were completed, the club had to decide upon their next project and it was at this point that the original proposal of the hurling alleys was revisited. This idea was then developed and transformed into the possibility for an indoor arena which would be mainly aimed at juveniles. However, the club also felt that facilities were required for the parents and so the project quickly grew and developed into what it is today; a facility for everyone.

A spokespersons for the club told the Times: "Cuchullains Sports Academy is unique as it is the only building in Ulster that is dedicated solely to the GAA.

"The Academy is built on a 15 acre site in the centre of Dunloy village and adjacent to the local primary school. The area already boasts two full sized, enclosed playing pitches, changing rooms and a social area. The new building consists of 50 metres by 25 metres, third generation Astroturf pitch which meets the latest GAA specifications. The third generation pitch boasts a High Tec PA system which includes a roving microphone and headset for the coach.

"The pitch is enclosed by concrete rebound walls that are eight metres high. In addition to this, there are also seated viewing galleries on the ground and first floor that provide spectators with a view of the complete playing area.

"On the ground floor there are changing facilities that are fully equipped for disabled access. There are also public toilets, reception area and a cafeteria area; complete with tables and chairs.

"On the first floor there is ample space for a fitness suite and a strength and conditioning suite. These areas will be furnished during phase two of the project.

"The outdoor area consists of Brit-Mac which measures 65 metres by 60 metres. There is a fifty metre high ball wall with the potential for third generation Astroturf, flood lighting and fencing which constitutes phase three of the project. All of these will compliment the two full sized pitches already in existence."

The Sports Academy was built using funds received from Croke Park because the club view this new build as a Regional centre for the development and promotion of Gaelic sport within the Antrim, Derry and Donegal areas. Sport Northern Ireland also contributed financially through a grant accessed via their Building Sport programme.

The remainder of the finances have been raised through the local community and primarily from the Club Dunloy direct debit scheme. The local business community have also helped by their generous donations to the project.

The spokesperson added: "The total cost for the completion of all three phases of the project is 1.5 million.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Antrim County Board and the Ulster Council in helping with our successful bid to Croke Park.

"Although Cuchullains Sports Academy has been built primarily for the improvement and promotion of Gaelic games, it will also be available for the use of the general public.

"The academy would be an ideal location for special events or parties. In addition to this, we look forward to and would encourage other GAA clubs to make use of our facilities. In order to check which slots are available for hire, such information can be accessed online at www.dunloygac.com. Bookings can be made via telephone using the contact details provided online. Payment should be made upon arrival at reception.

"We would like to thank MDA Architects and the main contractor, Dixon Contractors, who is also the club sponsor, for their hard work and efforts in the creation of Cuchullains Sports Academy."