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A drone picture shows two new sinkholes have opened up in the field next to the GAA pitch

A drone picture shows two new sinkholes have opened up in the field next to the GAA pitch

A drone picture shows two new sinkholes have opened up in the field next to the GAA pitch

Villagers living near a GAA pitch that was cut in two by an enormous sinkhole fear the ground could open up beneath them as photos emerged of two more holes.

The gaping sinkhole appeared in the middle of the pitch in the Co Monaghan village of Magheracloone on Monday and is believed to have been caused by underground mineworks collapsing.

It has sparked fears that other land nearby could be vulnerable to caving in as the local community centre was damaged, a school was evacuated and roads were closed.

New aerial photos have revealed two more sinkholes in an adjoining field, leaving locals fearful that there may be more to come.

"It's the uncertainty over the whole lot of it," said local resident Daniel Boylan.

"Even people living there don't know what's going to happen under them.

"We don't know if we'll get up and have a look at it tomorrow or what will happen."

A team of geologists working with mining company Gyproc Ireland and Monaghan County Council began a survey of the area yesterday to assess the risk of further collapses.

A two square kilometre exclusion zone remains in place and a number of homeowners have been moved to hotels.

"We're lucky in one way that it wasn't someone's house, but we just don't know - there are a couple of houses there," said Mr Boylan.

"Christmas is coming up and there's a question of whether they're going to get back into their houses."

Settlement

A spokeswoman for Gyproc Ireland said geological experts had confirmed "the area of subsidence is confined to a radius of 120 metres only" and it had not increased in size since the discovery on Monday morning.

She said the two smaller holes at the edge of the area "are part of the ongoing settlement process within the area of subsidence".

Five houses within the exclusion zone are still being assessed to discover if they are at risk.

Before the sinkhole appeared, Magheracloone Mitchells GAA club had been in talks with Gyproc to have their training grounds moved to another site nearby.

Club chairman Francis Jones told the Herald that, in the circumstances, any agree- ment was now unlikely to be finalised.

"We have talks with Gyproc and they said they were going to relocate us, but the final details hadn't been signed off," said Mr Jones.

"We had our plans up and it was to be a couple of hundred metres away from where we are now.

"It would be four or five years down the line, but we would want everything thoroughly investigated before we move anywhere now. We won't move unless it is."

A huge community effort is under way to support the club, with local pub Boylan's agreeing to host functions planned for the damaged community centre.

Local woman Evelyn Matthews, whose son trains with Magheracloone Mitchells' junior team, said they were trying to raise whatever funds they could for the club.

"My nine-year-old was crying because he didn't think he was going to get back to training," she said.


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