An example of the damage done to the St Carthage’s Athletic FC dressing rooms in Boora.

Offaly club ‘heartbroken’ as vandals attack facilities

St Carthage’s Athletic FC chairman Tom Finnerty has said the club is “devastated” and “heartbroken” over the vandalism carried out on its facilities last weekend.

“It was like as if two diggers ploughed into it. A ball and a chain wouldn’t do any more damage. It was a pure demolition effort,” Tom told the Offaly Independent.

The Offaly junior soccer club posted on their Facebook page that the dressing room windows were broken and “the interior wrecked with doors and slab walls destroyed”.

Tom and his club colleagues are mystified at the motives of those who carried out the vandalism.

“There was nothing taken, even though a ride-on lawnmower and a generator were there. The question we’re asking is why would anybody do this. The mindset is unreal,” he said.

“Maybe people are fed up of being confined by restrictions and decided to take out their outrage on us, but this is very distressing for all players, coaches and members. It’s heartbreaking.”

The club rents the pitch in Leabeg, located very close to the Lough Boora discovery park, from Boora Development Company, a local community group. Clonmore Utd also use the pitch but the dressing rooms are owned by St Carthage’s, who compete in the Combined Counties Football League.

Tom pointed out that the club has “spent a lot of money” in order to significantly improve the facilities which include two dressing rooms and a referees’ room.

“We’re 11 years in existence and something like this is so detrimental to a club like ourselves,” said Tom. “We’re a small club and we don’t really get any funding. It actually costs lads to play soccer - between things like the cost of fuel to drive to training and games, and we don’t charge on the gate for getting into games.”

The damage to the St Carthage’s dressing rooms is a double whammy for Tom as he is also chairman of the Tullamore Men’s Shed, which had €3,000 worth of power tools taken last weekend.

“I was shocked and dismayed when I saw the dressing rooms last Sunday and when I saw the Men’s Shed on Monday morning, you can imagine how I felt,” said Tom.

“It would almost make you think that there is a vendetta, but I know that is not the case. It’s just pure coincidence.”

Tom is not sure exactly when the vandalism to the St Carthage’s dressing rooms was carried out. But he has a clearer timeframe in relation to the Men’s Shed incident - saying it happened between 2.30pm last Saturday, when their premises was locked up, and Monday morning.

Both incidents have been reported to the gardaí, whom Tom thanked for the way they responded and the “empathy” they showed in both cases.

Tom is very grateful to the local community in Tullamore and surrounding areas for the “amazing messages of support” in relation to the Men’s Shed incident.

He also acknowledged the support St Carthage’s has received since being attacked by vandals.

In the wake of the damage to its facilities, St Carthage’s is appealing for more support for its ‘Last Man Standing’ fundraiser.

“I understand that these are hard times but we’d be so grateful for any donations people can make,” said Tom.

The cost of entry to the club’s ‘Last Man Standing’ is €10 (via Revolut or PayPal). For more information, people can contact stcarthagesfc@hotmail.com or 087 1687564.

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