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Friday 23 February 2018

€5k armed raid on Croke Park 'Handball Alley' sports club

The Irish Handball Centre was targeted by a raider. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The Irish Handball Centre was targeted by a raider. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A man armed with a blade and a screwdriver escaped with more than €5,000 when he raided a handball sports club known as 'Handball Alley' - a favourite drinking spot for Dublin GAA fans.

Gardai from Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station are investigating the shocking incident, which happened at around 2am yesterday at the iconic club and bar, located in the shadow of Croke Park.

The raid happened at the Irish Handball Centre at St Joseph's Avenue, Drumcondra.

The criminal entered the premises and threatened a male staff member with the weapons, before fleeing from the club with the cash.

The Irish Handball Centre is just yards from GAA HQ and is a particular favourite of Dubs fans, who regularly pack the venue to celebrate victories.

Threats

The armed robber made a series of threats during the raid, which took place in the early hours of yesterday morning, when he entered the premises and brandished the weapons.

It is understood that the incident is the first of its kind to ever happen at the club, which has been in existence since 1970, when it was opened by then- president Eamon de Valera.

Gardai said that they did not have a description of the attacker and there have been no arrests in the case.

Last month, the GAA was granted final approval for the construction of a state-of-the-art handball centre at Croke Park following a 28-year battle with local residents and the centre.

The dispute centred on GAA plans for demolition of the highly popular Irish Handball Centre Social Club and Bar and construction of a multi-million euro sports complex.

An Bord Pleanala gave the green light to the development of the new facility, which will replace the existing 1970s-era handball centre, with a number of minor conditions attached to the permission.

An earlier successful planning application to Dublin City Council had met with opposition from some local residents, but the State's top planning body dismissed the appeal and gave the go-ahead with a reduced number of conditions.

The long-standing plans caused a rift between the GAA and a prominent group of residents for nearly three decades, and the impasse was only overcome following the intervention of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2015.

In September of last year, both sides declared the 28-year dispute over by announcing a new partnership initiative as part of major redevelopment plans.

The new centre will be managed through a partnership between the GAA, the local community and handball centre members.

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