Castlebar is gearing up for an influx of more than 30,000 GAA supporters for Mayo's All Ireland Senior Football Championship game against Donegal in MacHale Park tomorrow evening.
The big game has been sold-out for some time now, with the capacity of the ground initially limited to 25,369 - but increased to around 27,000 this week, with the addition of a number of musical acts to warm up the crowd from early afternoon. Upwards of 20,000 tickets were sold online after they went went on general sale - leaving the rest of the tickets to be distributed among the clubs in Mayo and Donegal.
On Wednesday night following their monthly county board meeting, Mayo GAA issued a communication saying that there will be no further allocation of tickets to clubs for Saturday's game. "There will be no more tickets sold in shops, online or outside the ground on the day. All supporters, including children, must have a ticket to gain entry on Saturday," they said.
The town is poised for a major economic boost from the thousands of GAA fans who will be travelling to the game from both Mayo and Donegal, with a carnival atmosphere expected on the day, with thousands more expected to come to town for the unique atmosphere, regardless of whether they have a ticket.
The gates will open in MacHale Park tomorrow at 3.30pm for supporters, with entertainment being provided by Donegal band 'Goats Don't Shave' - famous for their song "The Hills of Donegal", Frank McCaffrey, as well as Tuam-man Davy Carton from The Saw Doctors - who is sure to get a rousing reception as he is the voice of "The Green and Red of Mayo".
Gardai and road safety officers from both Mayo and Donegal County Councils have issued a plea to motorists in the build-up to the game to park correctly and use the public car parks in the town to ensure safety for all.
This is a must-win game for Mayo if they are to stay in the race for the All Ireland senior football championship and book a place in the All Ireland semi-final next weekend in Croke Park. You can read all about how the game went on Saturday evening at www.advertiser.ie/mayo/sport with the action throwing in at 6pm.