The chair of Sheriff YC has said members of their youth football club have been left “devastated” after their pitches in Fairview in north Dublin were left vandalised and damaged by track marks.
It is the third such incident in the last four months. Damage was previously caused to the pitch by a car which was driven across it.
Dublin City Council believes two stolen motorbikes caused the latest damage in Fairview Park at the weekend. They say the damage is superficial and will be repaired, but it is not the first time that this has happened.
As well as Sheriff YC, Belvedere youth football club plays in the area while East Wall Bessborough FC has had similar problems with vandalism over the last year on the nearby Alfie Byrne Road pitch.
Dublin City Council has installed some new barriers which would prevent cars from entering the site, but people using bicycles and motorbikes can still gain access.
Chair of Sheriff YC Hugh Richardson said: “It’s happened two to three times in the last couple of months, but six or seven times in the last year.”
He said a footpath that runs right around the pitches is now making it more accessible.
“The cycle lanes and paths were leaving it wide open and vehicles can still get in near the bridge. All football has stopped,” he said.
Many of the playing pitches were declared unplayable last weekend due to the weather and now the latest incident has left a wide series of criss-crossed muddy track marks behind, churning up the grass.
Devastated that’s how our club is feeling right now yet again our pitches in Fairview have been vandalised this time by motor bikes DCC have put new surroundings in place to try to stop this but these people still manage to get into the park and leave the place like this all pic.twitter.com/Gy1mlc9m9N
— Sheriff YC (@Sheriff_YC) February 10, 2024
Sheriff YC said the damage will leave the pitches unusable again in time for this weekend. “Its costing a lot of money to get travel on mini-buses and the girls clubs are having to travel as well,” Mr Richardson said.
He said the over 12s are being particularly affected as it is not possible to play 11-a-side matches on alternative astroturf pitches.
The whole club is being run by volunteers, he said, and it is hard to hold onto them when home matches cannot be scheduled and not all parents are able to travel or deliver their children to away games.
Dublin City Council said an alternative pitch at Belcamp is now on offer to the club.
It added that the two motorbikes gained access to Fairview Park through pedestrian and bicycle entrances.
The motorbikes have since been removed by gardaí who are investigating the incident.
“Unfortunately, Fairview Park has suffered a couple of such incidents in recent weeks.
“The first incident involved a stolen car which gained access to the park through an opening which arose from the Clontarf to city centre cycle and bus priority project,” a spokesperson for Dublin City Council said in a statement.
In recent weeks Dublin City Council officials have met with Sheriff YC to discuss a number of the club’s concerns and described the outcome of the meeting as “very positive”.
“It is unfortunate that there has been another incident which has impacted on the pitches in Fairview Park but the city council is working with the gardaí and the clubs to address the problem insofar as a public park can be protected from stolen motorbikes.”
Belvedere Club has two pitches in Fairview Park and is also concerned by the frequency of such incidents.
“Eight teams every Saturday are being affected,” John Hayden, chair of the club said. He said opposition teams also cannot travel to play there, with the uncertainty being one of the main problems.
“Three weeks ago the pitches were also destroyed,” he said, adding that games were cancelled only last weekend, because of the weather.
“What’s going to happen is parents will take their kids out of the clubs and take them elsewhere,” he added.