Photo: Tipperary Star
We’re inching ever closer to game day but, still hiding out in the long grass, we have to make our own amusement. There’s a bit in the media about the match against Tipp – which I’ll get to shortly – but not a whole pile. After all, the papers have far more pertinent stuff to be talking about right now, for example how Kerry’s bench could be key to their chances of beating Dublin. They are playing Dublin this weekend, aren’t they?
Never mind, back to us and our under-the-radar trip to Thurles.
Let’s start with the practicalities. The Irish Mirror (here) and the Irish Sun (here) both have what those of a less charitable disposition might call an idiot’s guide to Saturday’s game. That should sort anyone who’s looking for really basic information about the game and who can’t, for one reason or another, google the bloody thing themselves.
Tickets, did I hear someone mention? If you’re a season ticket holder you should have got an email by now letting you know the drill. Which is that entry is by way of your season ticket card scanned at the gate. If you want to avail of this option then you have to enter the ground via the Ardán Ó Riain, which also is called the New Stand. The stand opposite is the Ardán Ó Coinneain, which – you’ve guessed it – is also known as the Old Stand. Neither of the two terraces will be open to punters on Saturday. A handy graphic of the stadium is here.
If you’re not a season ticket holder then you can pick up tickets in SuperValu and Centra stores nationwide. Adult tickets cost €15 (it’s €10 for season ticket people) and kids are €5.
Options for getting there clearly depend on where you’re coming from. I’ll be bombing down the motorway from the capital myself and, by the looks of it, it’s an easy drive of less than two hours duration. The train’s another option from up here if that tickles your fancy.
From the west there’s also now a good motorway link, with shorter cross-country routes for the more intrepid traveller. Google Maps (boss, Google is) tells me that the most direct route from, for example, Castlebar to Thurles is 201 km, which you should cover in under three hours. The preferred route here is a bit of a scenic one, taking you off the M17 at the M6 junction then down to Thurles via Loughrea, Borrisokane, Cloughjordan and Templemore.
It might be as handy, though, to stay on the motorway all the way to Limerick, which then takes you back up the N7 towards Dublin as far as Nenagh. This was the route Rob said he’s planning to take – you can wave to him if you encounter him en route – and although it’s a bit longer (248 km on our theoretical route from Castlebar) it’s an easier drive. Each to their own there.
Once you get parked up – details on that Thurles Sarsfields option for parking near the ground here – thoughts will inevitably turn to the spuds. Well, that’s the way it tends to be for me at any rate. While I’m not planning a D’Unbelievables kind of match-day schedule, I do intend to get to Thurles in good time for chow ahead of throw-in.
I’ve no idea where’s good or bad in this regard. It’s hard, though, to look beyond the place where, in GAA terms, it all began – the iconic Hayes Hotel on Liberty Square, now refurbished and reopened under new management.
Right, back to the bit of coverage that’s there about the game – go on, admit it: you’d forgotten that bit, hadn’t you?
Aside from a truly forgettable (even by his standards) Martin Breheny piece in the Indo (which is here but really it’s not worth looking at) there’s a preview piece on Sky Sports by Peter Canavan – that’s here. The Tyrone man reckons our power in the middle third will be what’ll prove decisive on Saturday.
My favourite piece, though, is one in the Irish Examiner, featuring an interview with former Tipperary selector Tommy Toomey, which is here. He reckons that his county’s best way of getting at us is to sow fear and doubt in us, both out on the pitch and up in the stands. He might be right, though I guess it’s up to us as to whether or not we play along with such a cunning ruse.
He goes on to big up their danger men, Quinlivan and Sweeney, and then rolls out that laziest of old tropes about Andy Moran being “the real marquee forward” for us. He goes on to posit the question – have we someone else like Andy?
Gosh, there’s a searching query if ever there was one. Well let me see, who might fit the bill there? Say, someone who scores a bit? Better still, a lad who scores a lot? You know the kind of player: all-time top scorer for the county type of thing, ideally someone who’s also closing in on becoming the top scorer of all time in the championship. Come on, people, help me out here …
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