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01 Dec 2021

Dunfanaghy delight: Green light given for new pitch opposed by Martin O'Neill

Dunfanaghy delight: Green light given for new pitch opposed by Martin O'Neill

The plans for Dunfanaghy Youths' new development

Dunfanaghy Youths have been granted for planning permission for a new pitch, which was previously subject to an objection by former Republic of Ireland manager Martin O”Neill.

Fears over the future of the club, which caters for around 150 players, have been allayed after Donegal County Council granted permission for the development at Lurgabrack, Dunfanaghy which is subject to 12 conditions.

Dunfanaghy Youths have been given permission for the construction of a new playing pitch, a new training pitch, a new clubhouse to incorporate changing rooms and ablution facilities and an equipment storage shed.

The development includes all associated site works and the installation of a waste water treatment system.

“This is fantastic news for the local community and is the result of a lot of hard work and effort by everyone involved with the club,” a spokesperson for Dunfanaghy Youths said.

“Right from the very beginning of the application, Kenneth & Seamus from M Friel Architects have been there and we appreciate the time and effort that they have put into this process.

“A special word of mention must go to the players, their parents, guardians and the coaches. For three years the club has competed in the league and cups with no home pitch.”

Dunfanaghy Youths have been homeless since the summer of 2019 when they were served with a notice to quit the pitch at Kill, Dunfanaghy they had been playing on for over 25 years.

Dunfanaghy Youths won the John Gorey Curran Cup in May 2018 and in December 2018, when they were operating without a home pitch, won the Donegal Youth League.

Due to the lack of a home pitch they were, under the competition rules, unable to defend the cup win in 2019.

In March 2020, planning permission was sought for the development and O’Neill was one of those to lodge an objection.

O’Neill lives in London, but owns Horn Head House, a derelict 18th century country house, in the area. The house has been unoccupied since the 1930s.

Horn Head is an area of on the Wild Atlantic Way - a tourism trail around the Irish coast - and is a popular destination for tourists.

The Horn Head cliffs rise to around 600ft and look across Sheephaven Bay. Two lookout tours, one from World War II and the other dating to Napoleonic times, give stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and Tory Island.

O’Neill signed a written submission to Donegal County Council in which he highlighted a number of concerns.

In a seven-page document, he outlined his views under a number of headings including: environmental concerns; contravention of development plan guidance; the site’s planning history; traffic and pedestrian access; and changing the character of Horn Head.

Last summer, a decision was deferred as the local authority sought additional information regarding the development.

A planning submission, containing over 120 signatures, was lodged with the Council in support of the plans while an online petition gathered over 1,100 names.

In recent times, Dunfanaghy Youths have been using the pitch at PCC Falcarragh. The community pitch in nearby Creeslough has also been used small-sided games and training. These arrangements, however, did not have long-term viability for the club.

With planning permission now secured, Dunfanghy Youths can begin to look into the future again.

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