Photo: Wexford GAA
It’s Wednesday, we’re playing again on Saturday but, once again, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the papers. The qualifiers really are the way to go for hiding in plain sight.
Had we won Connacht it’d have been our lads all over the media at the minute but we didn’t so instead it’s the turn of Galway’s Damien Comer, the latest poster-boy for football in the province. Style on you, Damo.
The one bit that’s out there today on our game is on the GAA website – where they’ve obviously become tired of penning all those fawning pieces with Dublin players that have littered the place the last while – and it features Westmeath’s player Ger Egan. There’s not a whole pile to this piece, to be honest, and the Lake County’s captain certainly provides no material for the wall of our dressing room the next day, saying as he does that we’re “an awesome team” and are to boot “just as good as Dublin”. Oh you silver-tongued devil, Ger.
Let’s move on to more here-and-now stuff. The city’s quays will be even worse than normal traffic-wise this weekend, due to Luas works on O’Connell Bridge, which will close east and westbound traffic at this junction. There’s a piece on the works here.
Anyone in their right mind shouldn’t, of course, ever think about approaching Croke Park from the west via the quays, unless you’re coming by train, in which case you’re not going to be driving anyway. The M50’s the only way to go and so the weekend’s fun and games on O’Connell Bridge shouldn’t really be of any concern from a #mayogaa point of view.
Of greater concern (only potentially, mind – we’re still in one-game-at-a-time mode here) is what’s contained in this piece by Malachy Clerkin in the Irish Times, already mentioned in the comments, about the arrangements for the quarter-finals. This one, should it come to pass, has all the makings of a proper GAA clusterfuck.
If (and I stress the if) Donegal and ourselves win our respective Round 4B matches, then the four counties in All-Ireland quarter-final action the following Saturday (which means it’s a seven-day turnaround, by the way, not the six-day one that everyone says is facing us) will be the two of us along with Tyrone and Dublin. That’s right: four of the best supported counties in the country.
According to Malachy Clerkin’s piece, the GAA have said “there’s no chance whatsoever” of shifting one of the quarter-finals to another day, so as to accommodate likely demand for tickets. In this regard, it’s worth pulling out from that piece the quote about the estimated demand for tickets by the unnamed GAA spokesperson. Here it is:
Realistically, if we had a stadium of unlimited capacity, you would probably not be far off the 80,000 mark for games with those teams at the quarter-final stage. If it was at semi-final stage, that would be a different situation.
“But on a Saturday in a quarter-final, you’re probably looking in or around capacity. That’s our call on it. We saw the possibility of this a week or more ago and we think it would fall at just around capacity. The only way that upcoming fixtures could potentially spill in that direction is in the event of draws.
The technical term for such reasoning is, I think, complete and utter bollocks. That stuff about having a stadium of “unlimited capacity” makes no sense at all but that aside it looks like they’ve done a bit (maybe five seconds worth) of counting on their pinkies and have come up with the conclusion that the attendance for the quarters will be “in or around capacity”.
Okay, if Cork win then their usual quota of in or around twelve supporters changes the equation (and if we’re gone, Westmeath probably wouldn’t bring the same number as us but they’d still bring a decent crowd) but surely the GAA needs to be thinking about the possibility that demand for tickets for Saturday week could well exceed supply, perhaps by a big enough margin? It’s all the more relevant for them to be doing so in a year where overall attendances are on the slide.
If there is a scramble for tickets, that Irish Times piece also contains proof that it’s our supporters (if, if, if …) who’ll be at a particular disadvantage, in much the same way we were for last year’s All-Ireland semi-final replay. This is because the GAA plan to put the tickets on sale that night, either straight after our match finishes (if no draw is needed for the quarters) or else by 9pm that night (if a draw is required, it’ll be done by then).
Last year, the bulk of our support was still on the move after the drawn match when the tickets for the replay went on sale, with the predictable result that the Dubs had gobbled up way more than their fair share before our lot were in a position to starting looking for them. A similar scenario could now be facing us on Saturday evening in relation to the quarters … but only, of course, if we sort Westmeath first.