Outrage as GAA clubs hit by theft and vandalism

Sian Moloughney

Sian Moloughney

In a week that Tipperary GAA players were looking forward to Munster football and hurling finals, two South Tipp GAA clubs were devastated when their club houses were attacked, damaged, and training equipment stolen.

Break-ins at the neighbouring GAA clubs of Ardfinnan and Fr Sheehy’s in Clogheen were reported last weekend - in one case causing extensive water damage to a club house and in the other stealing hundreds of euro in training equipment which the local community had donated money to buy.

Ardfinnan were not only dealing with the damage to their club house, but disappointment that the replay of the South Championship clash, between Cahir and Killenaule, which was to have been played there on Monday night, had to be moved to Clonmel,

Fr Sheehy’s club members are devastated that equipment bought just this year, thanks to the local community sponsoring one football at a time, is now gone.

The attack on the Ardfinnan club house took place last Friday. According to a club spokesperson it is believed that the break-in was an attempt to steal copper piping in the building. Copper water pipes were cut, resulting in extensive water damage in the dressing rooms. Four parts of the ceiling have fallen in and water poured through into the kitchen area, ruining the kitchen units. There is also damage to electrical fittings.

It is thought that the culprits were disturbed before they could get away with the copper pipes, when a neighbour turned on outdoor lighting and scared them away. However the damage was done.

PRO for Ardfinnan GAA Club, Stephen O’Brien, said the club are now in the process of working out how much it will cost to repair the club house.

The theft from Fr Sheehy’s took place in broad daylight on the previous Thursday afternoon.

Some time between the club’s caretaker leaving at 4.30pm and players arriving for training at 7pm the door to the clubhouse was kicked in and the club’s stock of footballs, sliothars and training bollards taken.

The loss to the club is even more devastating as it was thanks to the community the resources were there. Last January the club had no money to spend on footballs and sliothars, club PRO Kevin Dowling said, and it was thanks to local generosity that €1,000 was raised. Local businesses were asked to sponsor €50 for one football, or a dozen sliothars.

“If we had had a football match last weekend we would have had no football,” Kevin said. The club did have to go out and buy a dozen sliothars to keep going. The annual Cul Camp for young players takes place next week.

Kevin told The Nationalist that the club have no plans to go back to the community for more funds because in this day and age it’s hard to ask people for money.

Fr Sheehy’s have now taken the decision to look into installing security cameras around their club.

Kevin said the club has suffered the ill-affects of anti social behaviour at weekends for some time - there is drinking going on and “the door is kicked in every weekend. We don’t lock it now.”

He laid the blame on “mindless thugs” and “a lack of respect.”

The stolen footballs are stamped with the Fr Sheehy’s club name, so are of no use to anyone else.

If anyone witnessed the events at Ardfinnan or Clogheen they are asked to contact the local gardai. Also if people see or are offered the footballs or sliothars they can contact Fr Sheehy’s, or the gardai.

There is no suggestion the two incidents are linked.