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Players Lounge reopens after raid blaze

A PUB that was torched just 10 days ago is set to reopen tonight.

The Players Lounge is back in business for the start of the English soccer season despite being gutted in an arson attack.

Gardai are conducting a serious investigation into the August bank holiday blaze.

In spite of the extensive damage, the owners announced boldly on its boarded windows that it was back in business and was being partially opened from today.

"Something Inside So Strong" boasted the message from the lyrics of the Labi Siffre song, which adds: "I know that I can make it, Tho' you're doing me wrong, so wrong."

On the morning of August 2, as the bank holiday weekend came to a close, a number of men entered the Fairview pub around 2.30am and held the bar manager at gunpoint.

Having tied him up and robbed the safe of up to €80,000, they then set fires at three locations.

One of these was strategically placed under a CCTV camera, while video tapes from other cameras were stolen.

The premises, run by John Stokes, father of Celtic and Ireland soccer star Anthony (23), was gutted in the blaze.

Huge plasma screens, catering for fans of all sports, were literally dripping plastic.

No internal CCTV survived the blaze but footage from other premises in the vicinity shows two men emerging from under the pub shutters after the attack.

This confirms information given to the gardai by the publican's wife, Joan, and others that two men with "hoodies" were seen in the vicinity earlier. The men with hoodies are clearly visible on CCTV but are not recognisable.

No one was injured during the attack and the manager escaped the blaze through a side door into a laneway.