'Damage caused by GAA players forced us to cancel soccer games'
Dublin youth football clubs Home Farm and Whitehall Celtic were forced to cancel and reschedule several matches after GAA players ripped up playing surfaces at the VEC Grounds in Whitehall.
Five of Home Farm's youth sides had their games cancelled, while Whitehall Celtic had its under-17s match with Lourdes Celtic relocated to Mowbray Road after the two groups of GAA players trained on and subsequently damaged multiple pitches.
The players were said to have arrived on the pitch after entering the grounds through Whitehall College and trained on the ground's main surface before being sent away by Whitehall Celtic's Brendan White.
Mr White had arrived at the grounds 45 minutes after he was notified by Home Farm vice-chairman Pat Clifford that the groups had taken to the pitch and were beginning to damage the surface during their training.
The players in question were believed to be living in the Dublin area and had trained on the pitch without permission the week before. However, this time they had seriously damaged the surface.
"It was in a really bad state," said Mr Clifford.
"It looked like they had let a load of horses on to the pitch. We had to cancel the whole weekend.
"We managed to relocate our under-12 team to a ground in Crumlin, but five of our teams missed out.
"I spent the whole weekend trying to fork out dents in the pitch, which were three inches deep, before rolling it, but it still needs a lot of work."
Mr Clifford said no apology was offered to the clubs by the players in question.
Mr White said the players should have known better than to train in a private facility unannounced.
"It's unfair. These players should know better than to come down here and train on pitches where clubs are paying rent," he said. "They were training separately on two pitches, but they did a lot of damage.
"Home Farm had pitch workers trying to mend it, but they shouldn't have to be doing that."