A SMALL soccer club's facilities were targeted in an arson attack – the third blaze to strike it in recent years.
Garry Barcoe, the chairman of Tyrrelstown FC, said that the club members were "devastated" when they learned that their container dressing rooms had been destroyed in the blaze.
The large container – which was set alight from underneath – also acted as a storage facility for the club.
A large amount of equipment in the unit was also ruined in the blaze.
Mr Barcoe estimates that the total cost of damage from the fire could amount to at least €7,000.
Gardai confirmed that they were "investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident".
Mr Barcoe said he has no doubt the motive behind the fire was intentional.
"When I got down there, smoke was coming out of the doors and windows. They had tried burning it from the outside," he said.
"There were a load of scorch marks all along the grass where they must have used some kind of accelerant to set the fire.
"At the back of the container itself it looked like there was a load of foam – like a mattress or a cushion. It seemed like they packed it in underneath the container and covered that in accelerant and set fire to it."
This is the third incident of its kind at the club in recent years and the second in the past seven months.
Equipment worth up to €2,000 was also lost in the fire, as items including jerseys, corner flags and training bibs were destroyed.
"There was a fire in 2008 and it wiped out all the equipment we had at the time. So we started to rebuild," said Mr Barcoe.
"Then, seven months ago, someone broke into the container and stole a load of equipment out of it. Within 48 hours someone had set fire to it and burnt it out completely."
It is believed that the fire was started late on March 16 or in the early hours of St Patrick's Day.
Due to a decline in sponsorship, the club currently competes at senior level only, and had only recently made great strides in establishing an underage academy.
"We have 15 kids in the academy. We had a couple of donations back in September which had helped us to get some gear to set it up," said Mr Barcoe.
"We had the majority of that stolen from us in September, and we were just about getting ourselves back on track, and now this."
He described this latest blow to the club as "a kick in the teeth".
"There were three attempts to set it on fire this time, with the third being successful," he said.
"The whole container is gutted. And gutted wouldn't do it justice in terms of how the committee feel at the moment."
Local Labour councillor Michael O'Donovan said the club members do "tremendous work", and said the incident is "disheartening".
"The main suburb of Tyrrelstown has 2,235 homes. They do tremendous work and it is a real setback to them when it happens," he said.
"They provide a massive service locally.
"What we can just do is try to get them the resources to get back on their feet again."