Photos by Sean Finnan.

The all-weather GAA pitch off Faussagh Avenue in Cabra looks tantalisingly close to ready. It has green protective fencing. The dark surface looks ready for its carpet of grass.

“It’s there and it’s tormenting us,” says club mentor Sue Keogh. “The parents are asking, the kids are asking.” 

But there has been no construction here since January, when Carillion, the UK-based multinational, went bust and contractors and subcontractors packed up and left.

Some parents are frustrated about where their kids are going to play over the winter.

The Department of Education promised Naomh Fionnbarra GAA Club it would fund the all-weather pitch if the club let Gaelscoil Bharra be built on its grounds, says club secretary Séamus McGrattan, who is also a Sinn Féin councillor. 

The school, which used to be in prefabs, fought for 22 years to get a proper building, which was completed last year, according to club mentor Sue Keogh.

Meanwhile, “the pitch has been lying abandoned since since last October and it’s cost a fortune,” says McGrattan. 

McGrattan says he was told construction would start again in the last week of August, but that didn’t happen. “Everyone’s telling us it’ll take a week to finish but nobody is telling us when that work will start.” 

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said that tendering negotiations between different parties are going on at the moment. “It is anticipated that an agreed figure can be reached within the next few weeks.”

(The design team is also talking to the principal of Gaelscoil Bharra about dealing with any defects and snags in the school building. “All these items will be included in the ongoing negotiations,” they said.)

At the moment, there is no outdoor play area for children in the Gaelscoil. Both Gaelscoil Bharra and Naomh Fionnbarra’s will share the all-weather pitch – when it’s finally done.

The Gaelscoil used to use the old pitch during the day. The GAA club would use it in the evenings. 

Emma Peppard says her three children play for the club and went to the school.

“Now that it’s getting darker and darker means there’s three from my family desperately looking for somewhere to train,” Peppard says. “It’s really not beneficial to train indoors as its just not the same as training on the pitch.”

The club itself is also starting to feel the pinch, says McGrattan. Last winter, pitch-hire cost €22,000 for all of the various teams in the club, he says.

The indoor hall on the grounds is worn with overuse, says Keogh, the club mentor. It “is in bits”, she says, and will soon have to be replaced.

Sean Finnan is a freelance journalist. You can reach him at

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