Thursday 19 October 2017

Soccer chiefs furious after pitch is damaged by GAA teams in unauthorised training session

The pitch in Whitehall after the GAA teams trained
The pitch in Whitehall after the GAA teams trained

Jack O'Toole

Dublin youth football clubs Home Farm and Whitehall Celtic were forced to cancel and reschedule several matches after GAA players from Cavan and Donegal ripped up playing surfaces at the VEC Grounds in Whitehall last week.

Five of Home Farm’s youth sides had their games cancelled, while Whitehall Celtic had their U17s match with Lourdes Celtic relocated to Mowbray Road, after two groups of GAA players from Cavan and Donegal trained, and subsequently damaged, the playing surfaces of multiple pitches at the shared grounds.

The players were said to have arrived on the pitch after entering the grounds through Whitehall College, and trained on the ground's main surface before being instructed away from the premises by Whitehall Celtic’s Brendan White.

White had arrived at the grounds 45 minutes after he was notified by Home Farm Vice Chairman Pat Clifford that the groups had taken to the pitch and were beginning to damage the surface during the midst of their training.

The players in question were believed to be living in the Dublin area, and had trained on the pitch without permission the week before, but this time had seriously damaged the surface and left it in an unplayable condition that had caused cancellations for both Home Farm and Whitehall Celtic.

"It was in a really bad state," said Clifford.

"It looked like they had let a load of horses onto the pitch. We had to cancel the whole weekend. We managed to relocate our U12 team to a ground in Crumlin, but five of our teams missed out.

"I spent the whole weekend trying to fork out dents in the pitch, which were three inches deep, before rolling it, but it still needs a lot of work."

Clifford added that there had been no apology given to the clubs by the players in question, but for White, he insists that the players should have known better than to train in a private facility unannounced.

"It’s unfair," said White.

"These players should know better than to come down here and train on pitches where clubs are paying rent.

"They were training separately on two pitches, but they did a lot of damage to the pitches. Home Farm had pitch workers trying to mend it but they shouldn’t have to be doing that."

Home Farm chairman Michael Dowling told the Independent.ie that five cancelled games could take the club two or three weeks to reschedule and play, and that the club would seek to postpone upcoming games or seek away fixtures in the event that the pitch would be unavailable.

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