GAA club hit by sinkhole could face five-year wait for new home
A Gaelic football club forced to shut after the collapse of a mine caused sinkholes to appear in its pitch may be waiting five years before it can move into a new permanent home.
Chairman Francis Jones said Magheracloone Gaelic Football Club, near Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, had been inundated with offers from local clubs offering temporary training facilities, but finding a new long-term location may prove more difficult.
"It is going to be three, four or five years before we are up and running again," said Mr Jones. "It is going to take a while before we have our own pitch to play games."
The club was forced to close and a nearby primary school was evacuated as a precaution last week when cracks appeared overnight.
Mr Jones believes the damage is so extensive that the club will not be able to reopen on the existing site.
Mining company Gyproc said: "We plan to have the results of this investigation next week... at which point we will share with the relevant authorities along with our recommendation."
Gyproc said the initial 2 kilometre-square zone was no longer being investigated and had been deemed safe.
"The company is taking all precautions and continues to monitor the wider area to ensure this remains the case," Gyproc said.
But the company added there was a possibility of further subsidence over the coming weeks within a 120-metre radius of Magheracloone club.
In a statement issued after the sinkholes emerged, Gyproc said pillars in the mine had collapsed after water had been transported and stored in a section that had not previously been used for water storage.
"It's just total devastation, surreal," Mr Jones said. "You would not believe what you were seeing, you would think it was something out of a film you were looking at."
The Monaghan native said the immediate concern is finding suitable temporary accommodation for the club.
A GoFundMe page has raised more than 8,000 euro, far exceeding its 5,000-euro goal.
Mr Jones said members were gutted to lose their ground but were thankful nobody was hurt.
The club caters for all age groups from under sixes to senior level.
"It's the pitch we all grew up with... the closest thing you can relate it to is a death," the chairman said.
"We've lost our home, that's the biggest thing... there were a lot of memories built up there."