Those behind the Faythe Harriers 'Win the House' fundraiser have come in for some major criticism this week, after the draw for a €405,000 house in Maynooth failed to go ahead on New Year's Eve and was instead postponed for another four months.
The fundraiser aimed to pay for the development of the Faythe Harriers clubhouse at Páirc Charman, but it appears that there wasn't enough of an uptake on tickets, leading the club to take the decision to cancel the draw at the final hour - at 8 a.m. on the morning it was due to take place.
The Club Chairman, Nicky Keeling, refused to comment on how many tickets had been sold thus far.
In an official statement, the club said:
'As a fundraiser, unfortunately it has so far not met our objectives in terms of raising adequate funds to enable us complete development at our club. We left this decision to the latest possible time to give the draw the best chance of proceeding in line with our objectives.'
The new date for the draw to take place has been set as May 3, 2020, and the club has said that 'the revised draw date was selected to give certainty to everybody that the draw will, without doubt, be conducted on that date, and one lucky winner will walk away with number 90, Carton Wood on that date.'
The property is a three-bedroom, semi-detached house in Carton Wood, Maynooth, Co Kildare, which is part of a housing development built by Wexford developer and Harriers clubman Anthony Neville.
When the fundraiser was launched, the club said that the draw would be capped at 12,000 tickets priced at €100 each, giving the club a net profit of €800,000 should they all be sold.
A major promotional campaign followed, with clubmen Larry O'Gorman and Lee Chin being joined by the likes of former premier league footballer Kevin Doyle and 'X-Factor' host Dermot O'Leary in pushing ticket sales.
What provoked annoyance among some punters was the fact that tickets were still being sold just six hours before the deadline.
'At 18:07 yesterday they posted "Tick Tock, 6 hours to buy a ticket",' one person commented.
'Are we to believe that at that stage there was still a chance of hitting the target but then midnight came and now they need 5 months to hit the target? What a joke! Very misleading and I'm sure people put themselves in debt yesterday to get involved in the draw!'
On December 27, the club offered a 'New Year's Special' offer which called on people to buy their ticket before midnight on December 30 to be in with a chance of winning '30 extra tickets'.
With tickets priced at €100 each, this amounts to giving away €3,000 worth of tickets. Another draw took place on December 29 to give away 25 additional tickets.
Chairman Nicky Keeling was unwilling to comment too much further on the situation, instead directing people to the Win The House website. When asked how many tickets were actually sold for the draw, he replied: 'I'm not at liberty to say'.
'Obviously we had a figure in mind of what we needed to finish our development,' he said.
'I can't divulge that information, as I'm sure you'll understand. Obviously we're disappointed to have to do this, but it had to be done. We waited until the last minute before we decided that it just couldn't go ahead.'
While the terms and conditions on the Win The House website do clearly state that 'the club reserves the right to alter or change the date of the competition draw for any reason whatsoever', many of those who had forked out €100 for a ticket were understandably annoyed with some calling for a refund to be issued on social media.
The terms and conditions also state 'once purchased, membership is non-refundable except in circumstances where the competition is cancelled by the club. In that event, a maximum amount of €90 per membership purchased will be refunded to members.'
While there was quite a bit of anger at the postponement of the draw, there were also some comments of support for the club on social media.
It's worth noting that similar fundraisers from GAA Clubs in Wicklow, Meath and Carlow, in which houses were being put up as prizes, suffered from similar postponements after sales didn't meet expectations. Kilcoole GAA Club in Wicklow put their draw back from March 31 to June 30 of last year before it went ahead, while Carlow GAA postponed their draw for a house three times - having initially been scheduled for October, it's now not to take place until April 18 of this year.
Following the latest postponement, Carlow GAA stated that the minimum quota of tickets was 2,500, while only 2,050 had been sold.
As of yet, the Faythe Harriers have not released the figure of the amount of tickets sold for their Win The House draw, having originally aimed to sell close to the cap set at 12,000.