40,000 hurling fans flock eastwards for mouthwatering final replay
By Sinead Farrell
More than 42,000 Galway hurling fans are expected to travel eastwards this weekend for the All-Ireland hurling final replay in a bid to witness the ending of a quarter century of disappointment.
Although there were hundreds of seats left empty for the first match on September 9, the price reduction of the tickets and the sales of hundreds of family tickets are expected to see the ‘full house’ signs erected at GAA headquarters on Sunday.
Galway are competing for their first All-Ireland senior hurling title since 1988, while Kilkenny are aiming to retain the crown they won last year.
Special trains and buses will leave the city and county on Sunday morning and congestion is expected on the M6 as fans head for the first hurling final replay since 1959.
The concessional ticket prices (€80 reduced to €50 and €25 for terrace tickets) has played no small part in triggering profound interest in attending the game but not everyone will be in a position to claim a valuable ticket.
Despite being the recipient of extra tickets, the coincidental replay of the minor final means that some of the tickets have been deflected away from the Galway region towards Tipperary and Dublin. This means that there will be a tight scramble around Kilkenny and Galway to secure a ticket in time.
Galway County Board, John Hynes, revealed that the hunt for tickets has soared to a level that cannot be satisfied by the number of tickets available in the county.
"Ticket demand is even higher than the last time. There are more people willing to attend this time.” That warning however, will not dampen the hopes of those still searching for a ticket, as people will most certainly be exploring all options in the hope that a ticket can be extracted.
According to Mr Hynes, only 12,000 tickets were assigned to the Glaway bases but sources in the Galway County Board are confident that a delegation of more than 42,000 fans will descend on the capital this weekend. Experts and lay hurling observers expect this game to be immortalised as a classic, so it is no shock that the interest generated is at a mammoth level.
Win or lose, the team will arrive back in Galway for a homecoming event to be staged in Pearse Stadium on Monday evening. This was originally scheduled for the Cathedral carpark at Nuns’ Island but has been moved to the GAA venue because of concerns over safety given the vast numbers expected to attend.
Mr Hynes stated the team will arrive at Pearse Stadium between 6.30pm and 7pm. However, this is subject to change with more up to date details to be announced post-match on Sunday.