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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 17 October, 2018
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'It's just a miracle it didn't happen any other evening' - Monaghan club to fundraise after sinkhole damage

The collapsing of pillars in an old gypsum mine is believed to have the closing of Magheracloone’s club grounds.

THE POST-WEEKEND conversation in Magheracloone on Monday morning was expected to revolve around their contesting of a Monaghan county senior football semi-final.

But their three-point defeat in Clones on Sunday afternoon against Scotstown paled in comparison to the setback the club suffered that night when a sinkhole opened up on their GAA grounds causing major damage.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

It now appears that the collapsing of pillars in an old gypsum mine caused the the sinkhole in the club, which is based the south of Monaghan close to Cavan, Meath and Louth.

MagheraclooneMap Source: Google Maps

The upshot is the club have been left with no access to their facilities or GAA equipment which is stored in their grounds and have embarked on a fundraising drive to finance the purchase of new equipment.

Niamh Kindlon was a decorated ladies footballer during her playing days, winning an All-Ireland medal and All-Star awards during her career with Monaghan.

She is now chairperson of the ladies football section of her home club and admits it was ‘a miracle’ that the accident didn’t occur at another stage over the weekend when the pitch and club grounds were in use.

“On Friday evening our U12 girls were playing on that same pitch.

“On Saturday there was a boys blitz all day with nine or ten travelling teams involved. On Sunday morning the U17 boys team played at 11 o’clock and that was early because the senior men’s team were playing later.

“It’s just a miracle it didn’t happen any other evening. It’s the hub of activity as you could imagine between all underage teams playing.

“It’s really devastating. It was hard to believe until the pictures came out that it actually happened and it’s as bad as it is. It’s very sad. 

“I’m chairperson of the ladies club and my two brothers are on the executive of the men’s club. My older brother rang me at about half 9, quarter to 10 on Monday morning. The chairperson of the club had contacted him, put a message on the executive What’s App.

“My brother was afraid we had something with the ladies club organised and maybe we would be in the pitch that evening and that we mightn’t have heard. He just wanted to make sure to let us know straight off how bad it was and stay away basically.”

Angela Walsh and Niamh Kindlon Niamh Kindlon (right) in action for Monaghan against Cork in the 2013 All-Ireland ladies football final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kindlon revealed that they had never any previous problems when doing upgrading works on their club pitches.

“We put a new prunty pitch in, started working on it in 2013 and it was opened in 2014. There would have been a lot digging and testing done before we went ahead with that project.

“We opened the pitch and there was no issues then and that’s not too long ago. We’ve had different work done on our juvenile field as well.

“At the moment we’re not getting near it and we might never get back up to get that stuff. It was good the senior men’s team were away on Sunday as their footballs for training for this week are actually with the kitman because he had them at the game and he hadn’t dropped them back to the pitch.

“Little things like that, it’s just thankful for them but for any other juvenile team, all their gear is in store.”

The incident has occurred at a stage in the season when the majority of Magheracloone’s teams have finished their campaign. Their senior men’s team may bowed out of the championship last Sunday but do still have league fixtures to fulfil and were scheduled to have a home fixture against Scotstown this Saturday evening.

The support of neighbouring clubs has been gratefully received.

Tommy Freeman Former Monaghan footballer Tommy Freeman in action for Magheracloone in last year's county senior football final. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“Our senior team have four league games to play, there’s only one of them fixed to be a home game, that was due to be Saturday,” said Kindlon.

“Local clubs in Monaghan, Cavan, Meath and Louth have been brilliant in offering their pitches and support in any way they can. Meath Hill in county Meath have offered their grounds, so that match is actually there on Saturday evening. We’re lucky in that sense that it’s towards the end of the year when most clubs actually are finished.

“The real trouble is going to come next spring when all teams are back playing and we’ve no facilities to go to. Probably realistically whatever reports comes back, the chances of ever getting back up to those pitches again is probably (slim).

“I know Francie (Jones, club chairman) said the foreseeable future but it’s probably forever. I think that’s the word that’s going around but we don’t know anything yet.”

- Details about the fundraising efforts for Magheracloone GAA club can be found here.

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Fintan O'Toole

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