If there’s one constant every year Mayo are in the All-Ireland Final, it is the elusive search for tickets as Edwin McGreal from The Mayo News reports.
A friend of mine got a phonecall within ten minutes of the final whistle on Sunday last. It was his mother-in-law with a simple order – six tickets side by side for the Hogan Stand for the All-Ireland Final.
She told him to go down to his local newsagent, who is a big GAA man, and place the order. Never one to miss an opportunity for devilment, my friend said the local newsagent wouldn’t have so many but if she rang a certain takeaway and placed the order, they’d help her.
I’m not sure if she asked for delivery or collection but needless to say the takeaway employee just laughed at her. My friend got an earful too but he’d had his fun.
On Monday morning in The Mayo News one of our erstwhile colleagues who wouldn’t be exactly what you would call a passionate Mayo supporter put her hand up. Could she have a ticket? We tried, in vain, to tell her that they will be in very short supply and we’d be doing well to get there ourselves to cover the game. Would every member of staff in The Mayo News not be entitled to a ticket for all the coverage we give the football? We like to think we provide a great service for the football followers in this county but, despite fielding several calls here for tickets, you’ve a better chance of ringing that takeaway my friend was on about.
The worst example I’ve heard though is one recounted by former Mayo GAA Secretary Seán Feeney. He fielded a call from a supporter who was arranging a bus for the All-Ireland final in 1996 and wondered if Seán might oblige them by sorting them with 50 tickets. We’re not sure how many of them got into Croker that day.
Connacht Council Secretary John Prenty, who was the Mayo Secretary in 1989, recalls an inquiry from one blissfully ignorant supporter looking for two Hill 16 tickets ‘side by side’.
If there is one thing that provokes little indifference in the build-up to All-Ireland finals is the subject of tickets. From people whose first game all year might be the All-Ireland final to those who were in Ballinamore for the FBD opener, everyone is wondering how they will get to Croke Park.
And you can be sure of a lot of things this month. People who deserve to be there won’t be and people who have little justification for being there will be. And, most certainly, people will fall out over tickets. It is the way of the world.
As things stand, Mayo don’t know exactly how many tickets they are going to have for the All-Ireland final. Even if the County Board gets another 2,000 tickets, which is likely due to the minors’ involvement this year, they won’t be long being sorted through.
Clubs will be the main source of tickets and so people who are not club members are at a distinct disadvantage. It’s why, in my opinion, the national GAA season ticket for county supporters is such a good, if overdue, initiative. Attend 70 per cent of your county’s games and you have nibs on an All-Ireland ticket if your county is competing.
I often heard people say they were at every match in a year and couldn’t get a ticket for the final. In some cases, though certainly not all, this was true. I remember a schoolfriend of mine who is a Mayo die-hard but, because he stopped playing around 1998, he was no longer a club member by 2004.
He’d no All-Ireland ticket and in what was one of the most generous displays of generosity around an All-Ireland final, another friend of mine, far from a die-hard, met him on Drumcondra Road at about 2pm on that September day and felt he couldn’t go in and leave the fanatic outside. So he gave him the ticket and went to watch the game in Quinn’s by himself. Such altruistic spirit is rare though. It’s normally the survival of the fittest and no place for nice guys.
But, now at least, fanatics like my schoolfriend can earn their ticket through the likes of the Cáirde Mhaigh Eo season ticket.
However it will never mean that the 82,000 most deserving souls will find their way to Croke Park on September 22. Life isn’t perfectly fair and the GAA certainly isn’t.
Corporate figures will be rewarded for their investment in sponsorship. Such is the way with big sporting days, in any code. And then there’s the very Irish way of knowing the right people in the right places.
Having a friend or a relation of yours who is a chairman of a hurling club in Monaghan is something most people never see as useful but this month any GAA contact in any club not participating in the final is Heaven sent.
Every club in the country should, at least, get two tickets and while some will choose to raffle them to fundraise, others will give them to someone they know from the participating counties.
So if you’ve a sniff of any of those type of contacts, get in touch with them now before the other semi-final is played. Donegal made hay out of the extra week they had on us last year. Mayo supporters should be looking to do the same this time around. Resourcefulness is key.
Better still, if you’ve access in any way to All-Ireland Final hurling tickets, look to trade for football tickets with Clare, where the ticket hunt is much more ferocious than in Cork. If you’re very lucky you might even get two football tickets for one hurling. Let that be the start of your negotiations anyway.
There’ll be any amount of competitions for tickets. It’s likely that if you’re on Facebook all you’ll see for the next few weeks is ‘shared’ status’ by people trying to win tickets.
The County Board, in an understandable effort to draw people into the four club championship games this weekend, are giving away one ticket at half-time in each of the games at MacHale Park (details on that initiative is here). You enter a draw on the way in and hope for the best.
Clubs remain the best source and if you’re an active adult member – as a player, an official or a coach – you should get sorted. If you’re not, then hopefully you’re already scouring the country looking for that precious piece of paper. Most genuine supporters will get their ticket, even if it might be as late as All-Ireland Sunday afternoon. Patience is a prerequisite. Some, unfortunately, will fall short. Best of luck in the hunt.