Clubs will distribute tickets for Cork hurling showdown with Kilkenny

A general online sale for supporters will only take place if unsold tickets are returned
Clubs will distribute tickets for Cork hurling showdown with Kilkenny

Cork fans celebrate the hurling qualifier victory over Clare. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

THE CORK County Board have distributed tickets for next Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final to clubs.

There will only be a general sale later this week of a portion of the 24,000 permitted in Croke Park between the rival counties when any unsold tickets are returned.

Tickets are priced at €50 and sold in pods of 2-5. A small number of U16 tickets, €10, have also been made available to clubs.

While the attendance was limited to 4,400 for the Rebels' win over Dublin in last Saturday's quarter-final in Semple Stadium, fans were able to purchase them on Ticketmaster in the days beforehand. It was the same with the qualifier victory over Clare a week earlier, though the majority of those were snapped up by the Banner.

Some supporters are frustrated with using clubs for ticket sales, though in theory, it's the best way to reward those involved at the heart of the GAA on Leeside. 

Here are three key issues facing the Rebels this weekend...

1. CROKE PARK RECORD:

CORK are back in an All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 2018, through to the last four for the sixth time in 10 seasons. 

They came through the backdoor three times. In 2012, they knocked out Waterford in the quarter-final before losing to Galway, 2013, beating Kilkenny and then Dublin to make the All-Ireland final against Clare, and now this season. 

In 2014, '17 and '18, Cork made the trip up to Croke Park as All-Ireland champions, before falling short against Munster opponents: Tipp, Waterford and Limerick.

It means the Rebels have a very poor strike rate from semi-finals on Jones Road. Particularly when you factor in losses to Kilkenny in 2008 and 2010 as well, though obviously, Patrick Horgan is the only link to those panels. Indeed selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan made his last appearance, and an excellent display it was too, in the Blood and Bandages in '08.

To be fair, we can't read too much into ties going back that far, but the harsh reality is that Cork sides just haven't thrived in Croker the way you'd expect them to, given their pace and massive support.

The last trip to Dublin was the 2019 All-Ireland quarter-final against the Cats as well when despite a Horgan hat-trick and a brilliant first half, they were well beaten in the end. 

Cork’s Robbie O’Flynn with Joey Holden of Kilkenny in the last Cork and Kilkenny clash in 2019. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr
Cork’s Robbie O’Flynn with Joey Holden of Kilkenny in the last Cork and Kilkenny clash in 2019. Picture: INPHO/Gary Carr

The time has come to break the losing cycle in the capital, but it won't be easy.

2. KILKENNY'S PHYSICALITY:

THERE'S an argument that Brian Cody's most significant achievement as Kilkenny manager has been keeping the Noresiders competitive when their underage production line isn't what it was. 

Back-to-back Leinster champions, they were excellent in the league recently, and going back to 2019 stunned Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final, only to be undone in the final with Tipp by Richie Hogan's red card.

They haven't won an U21/U20 All-Ireland since 2008 and only made the final twice in the last decade, 2017 and '12. By the same token, there are always serious hurlers in Kilkenny, helped by the academy that is St Kieran's College, and with Cody at the helm, their senior team is always hugely physical and built on manic work-rate.

They were very comfortable in beating Dublin last month and in TJ Reid have a free-taking machine who doubles as a constant outlet for puck-outs. 

Kilkenny captain TJ Reid, wearing a Cork jersey, after the 2019 All-Ireland hurling quarter-final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Kilkenny captain TJ Reid, wearing a Cork jersey, after the 2019 All-Ireland hurling quarter-final at Croke Park. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Cork might be heading into the last four with momentum, but Kilkenny absolutely love beating Leeside teams.

3. BURNOUT:

Kieran Kingston's side are on a roll now, helped by recent minor and U20 successes, creating a Rebel rising, but next weekend they'll play their third game in 16 days. Luke Meade picked up a knock in Thurles. 

Can Cork bounce through another bruising battle? Especially against a team vastly superior to Clare and Dublin.

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