An off-duty garda sergeant and two young hurlers have been praised for their diligence which helped to uncover a major cannabis grow house in Piercestown.
Approximately €250,000 worth of cannabis was seized on Tuesday evening last.
Two St Martin's senior hurlers were running laps at the GAA club when they noticed two men acting suspiciously. The men were dressed in black and were seen jumping over a wall into the grounds of the house.
The two men, who believed the house was vacant as they had never seen anyone coming or going from it, contacted Garda Sgt Mick Morrissey, who lives locally and is a former club chairperson.
Sgt Morrissey, who is the sergeant in Oylegate, explained that he was off-duty when he received the call but said he would contact garda colleagues in Wexford town.
When he rang the station, they were extremely busy and so he said he would call to the house himself. When he got there, he met Joe and Sean who had waited by the house.
'The house was shuttered up so you couldn't see in. I banged on the door and shouted that it was the gardai but there was no answer.' He said he continued to bang on the door but, in the end, the landlord was contacted and arrived with a set of keys to gain access.
'The minute we opened the door I knew there was a problem; the smell of cannabis would have knocked you down. I've been in three or four in the last number of years but this was bigger than any I'd seen before.'
He said there was no sign of anyone in the building when he entered but said he found almost fully matured cannabis plants in four ground floor rooms and four first floors rooms, with one or two rooms left empty for living space.
Sgt Morrissey proceeded to search the local area but the two men had left the scene. Detectives from Wexford Garda Station subsequently attended the scene, searched and sealed off the premises.
Sgt Morrissey said: 'It's incredible to see one so close to a village but it just shows how brazen they are now. But, in this case, it seems that by leaving the house these guys drew attention to themselves and were caught out.'
He praised the actions of his two club colleagues for their quick thinking and alertness.
Inspector Denis Whelan confirmed that the value of the cannabis plants discovered was around €250,000. He also commended the actions both of his garda colleague and of the two hurlers, whose diligence, he said, had helped to uncover a substantial operation.