GARDAI from Swords had to be drafted in to keep order at a football tournament involving children as young as five in Portrane last week.

The “Mini Euros” event organised by St Ita’s AFC almost had to be abandoned when two gangs of older youths started trouble from the sidelines – and parents threatened to intervene.

Less than 24 hours later, two rival gangs of teens descended on nearby Beverton estate in Donabate for a mass brawl which had been organised on social media.

Locals are now calling for a visible garda presence in the area amid fears the peninsula is a soft target for prearranged “Fight Club”-style violence.

Cllr Adrian Henchy (FF) told The Gazette: “There’s been a significant escalation in youths coming in by train and bus as well as a few locals causing trouble. We need more gardai on the beat.”

Gardai received 30 calls from concerned residents within the space of 10 minutes as teens who arrived by train from Balbriggan or Dundalk clashed with local teens on the green at Beverton estate on Thursday evening.

Two squad cars and a garda van were on the scene within minutes and after dispersing the gangs they escorted the visitors back to the train station. There were no arrests.

Cllr Henchy said: “This one was particularly nasty, but gardai were on the scene very quickly. It’s an estate with a lot of young children and the neighbourhood watch would be very on the ball.”

It’s the latest in a series of pre-arranged scraps which have erupted in Donabate. Rival gangs travel by train and bus from Balbriggan, Blanchardstown, Malahide, Swords and further afield and the violence is streamed on social media.

Cllr Paul Mulville (Ind) said: “We don’t want to demonise young people, but with such a large youth population we are encountering more and more challenging behaviour.

“There have been some seriously nasty incidents and we have to have the resources and systems in place to deal with it.”

The Mini Euros event at St Ita’s almost descended into violence but gardai patrolling the pitches from Thursday to Saturday ensured it went off without incident.

Cllr Henchy said: “The tournament is a fantastic event and the fact that it was disrupted by unruly behaviour is not only sad, but totally unacceptable.

“It saddens me to hear from so many people but especially our older citizens that they no longer feel comfortable going about their day-to-day lives in the centre of our village.”