The sleepy region of Fingal in north county Dublin wouldn't exactly be your typical idea of where Irish cricket's heart beats. However a four-year-old dream is soon to become a reality with the country's inaugural centre of excellence at North County Cricket Club.

The merger of Balrothery CC and Man-o-War to North County CC in the early 1990's came about primarily because of the development of the N1 motorway.

Derek Plant, one of a small group including Anthony Rooney, Tom Armstrong and John Andrews to pioneer the construction of the centre of excellence, explains.

"When Balrothery lost their grounds, I decided to get involved in finding a new ground because the children in the village had nowhere to go. The facility is open to GAA and football and we're committed to players from the entire region. The ground is 90% ready at this stage and we're delighted with it. Fingal cricket has always been strong, so the merger was a really important change. We looked around various locations and the Gaffney family came up with the current site. We wanted to create something more than a clubhouse and basic ground, so we put our heads together with the Irish Cricket Union and decided to create Ireland's first indoor practice facility."

The cricketing tradition is strong in Fingal for a number of, mainly, historical reasons.

"It was practically a case that farmers would step off their tractors and put on their whites and play", Plant explains.

"Cricket is an English sport and because Ireland was colonised for so long, the game spread amongst the various localities. The larger houses held cricket games many of which were around north county Dublin. Oftentimes it was a case that nine gardeners and, say, two lords would play. If you were a good cricketer - which would have been the case given how similar the principles of the game are with hurling - you got a job. In a sense it was Ireland's first indirect look at the professional game."

Logistically, the ground is ideal given that the ground is situated off the main Dublin-Belfast road and is a 15-minute drive to Dublin Airport. More significant is that the centre facilitates Leinster and Ireland training sessions for its underage and senior representative sides.

North County has been labelled as the Manchester United of Irish cricket because of the number of high-profile signings in recent times.

Plant believes that one of the main attractions for players who have joined from around the region is the facility that is a far cry from the Balrothery days.

"It used to be that guys coming to play in Balrothery would have two showers before they came so that they wouldn't have to wait around at the end of a game", he jokes.

"I don't think we'll have that difficulty with the new ground."

John Wright, secretary of the Irish Cricket Union, believes that the centre of excellence will help boost the profile of the game across the country.

"The centre was laid to the highest international specifications and the fact that it has four lanes of nets and under-lay matting, should ensure that future generations will be able to play and develop their games all-year round. The ICU has invested into the project to date between kitting out the nets, floor, lights and air conditioning in the complex. It's a positive development and one which will yield great results for years to come."

One of the most pleasing aspects for Plant is that interest both in the facility and in the game itself, is at its highest point.

"North County now has Irish representatives at under-11, 13 and 15 level so we're going to hopefully see more and more talented players emerging for years to come. The place is full of youngsters who practice twice a week as well as playing. The national coach - Adrian Birrell - is working very closely with us with a view to bringing the centre up to international level. We have a structure in place for coaches in the club and there are always two senior players involved in training underage teams."

Given that North County currently has six representatives on the North Leinster Interprovincial squad, will this lead to an imbalance?

"It will actually breed better cricketers and I think that clubs should have as many players as they can for the one side because that familiarity means that players learn how their team-mates think", Plant says.

Only personal restrictions will limit how high the club's ambitions will soar and Irish cricket will reap the benefits.