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GAA club praises community's help as clean-up under way at ransacked hall

By Rachel Martin

Members of the community rallied together last night together to repair damage to an Omagh GAA club ransacked by burglars just months after it was renovated.

Thieves broke into St Enda's on the Killybrack Road sometime between 9pm on Monday and 8am on Tuesday.

Burglars caused substantial damage to the clubrooms and a number of items taken.

Safes which were bolted to walls were ripped out.

St Enda's was forced to cancel all indoor activities because of the wrecking spree.

Club chairman Paul Breen said around 350 children attend sports sessions at the grounds.

He said this weekend the club is also due to host fans and players from Donegal and added that despite the damage the team is still hoping to welcome its rivals.

The club was renovated around six months ago at a cost of more than £80,000.

Mr Breen added: "Many of the players and members carried out a lot of the work voluntarily and they were very proud of what they had achieved.

"We were just about to start the second phase of the work and start putting in new ceilings and lighting but now this has happened.

"We've a double-header this weekend so the treasurer would have been getting his floats ready for that. But none of the trophies or photos of the teams were touched.

"We don't know what the full cost of the damage will be yet but we hope to assess the situation at the clean up. There's things we would rather be doing, but the great thing is that in situations like this the whole community really rallies round. We're expecting around 60-70 people to turn up to help with the clean-up operation.

"We're hosting Donegal at the weekend and this won't stop us from doing that and we'll have all the youth classes back up and running for next week."

A statement from the club read: "It is deeply disappointing that much of the recent good work carried out by our club volunteers has been undone. But we will not allow this despicable attack on our club to set us back and we are confident our members will rally round to help put things right as soon as possible".

The club added that it would like to thank all those who had offered support.

"It is at times like this that we truly appreciate the strength of the GAA and wider community as everyone unites in condemnation of the cowards whose motives are totally at odds with what decent society expects," it said in a Facebook post.

Club secretary Conor Sally told the BBC the burglars had cut open two gates and pulled open a fire escape.

He said they had "broken most doors forcefully going through each room".

He added: "There was a lot of damage caused, a number of items taken, including a number of safes, some of which had been bolted to the wall and had been obviously forcefully removed.

"It would have been quite noisy, I presume these people used some form of drilling equipment to manage to get the safes out. We can only assume they were there for some considerable period of time."

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