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Derry's Sean Dolan GAA nomads back five years after arson attack

By Donna Deeney

Published 04/10/2016

Eamon McGinley outside the new clubhouse
Eamon McGinley outside the new clubhouse
The previous one, which was burned down

A GAA club in Londonderry is back on home ground - five years after losing its clubhouse in an arson attack.

Sean Dolan's in Creggan is the oldest GAA club in the city, but has been forced to play all its games on pitches belonging to others since 2011.

The fire at the very end of that year destroyed not only the building, but left the pitch unplayable.

But a new state-of-the-art building and renovated playing surface means the club is back where it belongs.

Committee member and player Eamon McGinley said the past five years had been a serious challenge for members.

He added: "We are delighted to have our own premises and grounds again after such a long time.

"Thankfully our insurance company, along with a grant from the Department for Social Development, covered the costs of the rebuild and additional security measures like the fencing for us, which spared us a massive fundraising campaign.

"To be honest, it has been incredibly soul-destroying having to play all our home games at the grounds of other clubs, but the whole club is really looking to the future now.

"We had a fantastic weekend of celebrations to mark the reopening, but now we have to start building the club again, starting with the under-age teams."

Local Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell congratulated Sean Dolan's on the new facilities.

Mr Campbell said: "Sean Dolan's has been at the heart of the Creggan community for the past 40 years and has given the young people an interest in sport and something to belong to.

"It has been difficult since they were robbed of the clubhouse and the grounds by the arson attack.

"But we had a wonderful opening ceremony.

"I would encourage the whole community to continue to show support for Sean Dolan's and all they do, for the young people especially."

The arson attack occurred in the early hours of Saturday, December 28, 2011 and caused extensive damage to the clubhouse building.

As a result the club lost its entire under-age structure, and has been surviving with just the senior team.

The PSNI initially said the fire had been caused by an electrical fault despite strong local suspicion that it was a result of deliberate action.

However, police later issued a statement saying they were, after all, treating it as arson.

In June 2014 it emerged that five officers had been disciplined following a Police Ombudsman investigation into the case.

The watchdog found police failed to properly investigate the blaze and recommended that a detective sergeant and a constable be disciplined.

A duty sergeant and two detective inspectors were also disciplined after they were found to have failed to supervise and guide the investigation into the inferno.

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