This weekend sees one of the two main events of the Irish sporting calendar, the first of the two All-Ireland Finals. For any readers outside of Ireland, this is the culmination of the championship of Ireland’s national sport, hurling. Hurling has been described in many ways, “The Warrior Game“, “The Fastest Field Sport in the World“, even ” A Game for the Gods.” Possibly best described here as “An Irish sport which appears to be a hybrid of field hockey, soccer, football and unremitting, pants-wetting terror … [whose] origins are based on some kind of energetic outdoor activity participated in by ancient Gaels that most people refer to as ‘warfare’.”
Whatever way it is described, it is an incredible spectacle, with the final taking place in front of 80,000+ roaring fans, and the whole city abuzz with excitement and anticipation in the build-up. There is nothing quite like All-Ireland Sunday.
Strangely however, the same stadium wasn’t full for either semi-final. Nor were there over 80,000 people searching for tickets for any other match in the Championship up to this point. And it is the same situation every year. People who don’t go to a single game all year start shamelessly calling in favours to secure tickets for the final itself, whereas many who stood on the terraces following their county all year miss out. The final bandwagon gets overloaded.
Tickets for the match don’t go on general sale, but are distributed to clubs and their members. So clubs and their associated friends and families get preference on tickets. This is absolutely fair, as many of these will be people who genuinely follow the sport and attend games throughout the year. We know of course that if tickets were on general sale many would be hoovered up by professional touts using bots to book them. As it is, there are some dubious-looking ads already on Donedeal purporting to be selling tickets. I wouldn’t trust a single one of them. I’m sure that scammers abound.
Neither do I trust all the ‘competitions’ that flood social media in the lead up to each final, bleating something along the lines of ‘Like and share this post to be in with a chance of winning 2 tickets’. While some of them are shared by actual sponsors of the competitions, the majority I see are by pubs, shops, and other business with no connection to the GAA. With tickets in such demand, and being so difficult to obtain, I remain skeptical as to how so many of these establishments have tickets to give away. The truth, I suspect, is that no such tickets exist, and these competitions are nothing but attempts to drive more traffic to their pages. This was my favourite today:
I’m not sure how much use those tickets would be to anybody, as they are for the final two years ago. Also, counterfeiters must be delighted when people share pictures of (upcoming event) tickets with the barcodes clearly visible. They could print and offload loads of them for profit, and the first person to Croke Park with one of them gets in, while everyone else gets screwed.
So come Sunday I hope to be in the stands to see what promises to be a scintillating game, if the semi-finals are anything to go by. Will Galway make it two in a row again, like they did when I was a pup (1987-88)? Or will Limerick avenge their 1980-final defeat? And how many people in Croke Park will be at their first and only game all year?
Any tickets by the way?