Belfast Telegraph

Tyrone match postponed after vandals leave glass on pitch

By Rachel Martin

Footballers in Co Tyrone had to postpone a league match after revellers vandalised two pitches leaving shards of broken glass strewn through the grass.

A game scheduled for Tuesday between two rival Omagh teams had to be called off at the last minute due to safety concerns for the players.

Broken glass, bottles, cans and disposable barbecues were left on the grass across both pitches at Donnelly's Holm.

The Ulster Herald newspaper reported how match official Russell Roberts discovered the damage that afternoon when he came to the grounds to set up for Strule United's match against the Strathroy Harps.

Pitches belonging to both Strule United and Omagh Hospital team were both damaged.

Council maintenance staff cleared the debris on Wednesday and the pitches have since been declared fit for use.

Kieran McGirr, secretary of Strathroy Harps, told the paper it was disappointing that the game had to be postponed but accepted that the safety of players had to be put first.

The game would have been an important Fermanagh and Western League Division One match for both teams. However, it's likely the match will have to be put off for several weeks due to schedule clashes.

The league declined to comment.

The pitches are also often used by families, dog walkers and other amateur sportsmen and women.

Strule United club secretary Justin Craig said: "It's disappointing because it would have been a game against our rivals so it's two Omagh teams who have lost out because of this. We are in the middle of a relegation battle so every match is a big one for us. There were barbecues and everything across both pitches so there must've been a big party.

"It happened over the Easter weekend. There was a match there on Saturday evening so it must have happened at some point between Saturday night and Tuesday morning.

"It's just mindless vandalism for lack of a better word. The glass was everywhere - it was totally unplayable.

Mr Craig said the club have never been the victim of vandalism before.

"We'd like to see something done to stop this kind of thing from happening again but it's a public area and we are happy for kids to come and play their own matches on it and for people to enjoy it - what we want is just a bit of respect towards the sporting side of things," he added.

"We all want to be able to bring people together instead of having to call off our games. We want to get into the season and just play football."

Stule United's reserve side are due to play Lisbellaw thirds at home this Saturday, and the first team meet Magheraveely at home the following Saturday.

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