THE All-Ireland football final ticket famine has even spread as far south as Cork.
And while you might expect this afternoon’s Mayo-Tyrone decider at Croke Park at 5pm to have only a fleeting interest on Leeside, the reality is completely different.
“We’re getting more complaints from this game than we did for the hurling final,” Kevin O’Donovan, board CEO/Sec, told delegates at the monthly meeting during the week.
“The football final is even worse and it’s somewhat ironic because we were complaining about hurling final tickets going to other counties.”
As per the norm, Cork clubs entered arrangements to exchange hurling tickets for their football equivalent, but Covid’s induced crowd attendance reduction has impacted severely.
“I know clubs did swaps on hurling tickets in the expectation that they would get two football tickets.
“And I know ye saw every club in Ireland putting two hurling tickets up on Twitter in raffles, but that is different in Cork because we have more clubs.
“We did not have two tickets to give to every club in Cork. We didn’t even have one ticket to give to every club.
“There is also a commitment in a GPA agreement that the current senior football panel would have access to tickets. To be fair only a small number of them applied and we were able to flush the rest back in.
“We’ve done our best to look after officers, committee members, referees, delegates, but on a case-by-case basis. It is impossible and we know clubs got squeezed again.
“I know it put them in a corner because they promised tickets to Tyrone and Mayo, but we simply don’t have the tickets. We had them to throw around in hurling, but we don’t in football,” O’Donovan explained.
Delegates heard Cork’s allocation for the hurling final ranged at varying times from 11,000-12,500, way down on the figure if Croker was at full capacity.
“We got thousands of emails regarding hurling final tickets and we endeavoured to send them to the best homes we could, looking after delegates and so on.
“I did feel a bit sorry for club officers who found themselves with small allocations.
“It meant chairmen, secretaries and treasurers were being sucked into the club allocation and having to go into draws and so on. It’s something we should look at in the future and maybe club officers should be outside club draws.
“We received a late allocation and those went to senior clubs.
“We’re going to do a bit of work early next year and define all those categories and look at premium seats, club season tickets, budgets and maybe putting caps to increase club allocations.
“The clubs did get squeezed for this All-Ireland because of Covid,” O’Donovan added.
As for Mayo’s prospects of ending their long-suffering 70-year wait for the Sam Maguire?
This surely must be their day. There’s no Dublin or Kerry on the other side and psychologically that’s huge.
Yet, James Horan’s side must start a lot quicker than they did in the extra-time semi-final win over the Dubs and the Connacht final against Galway.
Mayo found themselves six points adrift of the champions at half-time and the game looked done and dusted.
They were still five points down with only seven minutes of normal time remaining in the second-half, but still managed to claw it back to send tie into overtime.
Mayo do not want to find themselves in a similar position again because Tyrone’s defence won’t be as accommodating.
The Connacht champions’ defence has been brilliant all season with Padraig O’Hora, Lee Keegan, Paddy Durcan and a fit-again Oisin Mullin leading the charge.
As always getting the match-ups right is imperative and Mayo also know what’s coming in terms of Tyrone’s counter-attacking style.
It’s sure to be tight and may not be easy on the eye, but Matthew Ruane should inspire Mayo to victory.