Castlebar loses out as Connacht final moves to Croke Park

Back to Croke Park: Mayo will be heading to Croke Park for the Connacht Final after it was moved from Castlebar by Connacht GAA this week. Photo: Sportsfile

Back to Croke Park: Mayo will be heading to Croke Park for the Connacht Final after it was moved from Castlebar by Connacht GAA this week. Photo: Sportsfile

The Connacht Senior Football Championship Final between Mayo and Galway will be played in Croke Park, following an announcement this week by Connacht GAA.

The final which will take place on Sunday, July 25 was originally slated to take place in MacHale Park in Castlebar after Mayo's victory over Leitrim last Sunday in the same venue.

It was the first senior football inter-county game that had supporters at it since March 2020, when Kerry came to the venue before Covid restrictions came into place.

There were 3,600 tickets available for the game and while it didn't sell out last Sunday, it was expected that the meeting between old rivals Mayo and Galway would see that game sell out easily if it went ahead in the Castlebar venue.

The announcement of the change in venue was made by the Connacht Council at half-time in the Connacht U20 semi-final between Mayo and Galway in Tuam Stadium on Tuesday evening, a game Mayo won on penalties to set up a final clash with Roscommon which will take place in MacHale Park next Wednesday evening.

A statement issued by the Connacht Council outlined their reasoning for the decision to move the game to the capital saying: "Following a meeting of the Connacht GAA Management Committee this evening, the decision has been taken to stage the Connacht Senior Football Final between Mayo and Galway on Sunday the 25th July in Croke Park.

"Due to current Covid restrictions, had the game been held in Elvery’s MacHale Park the crowd would only have been 3,600 so the game has been moved to Croke Park to accommodate 18,000 supporters on the day."

While it would have been a much lower attendance than a meeting between Mayo and Galway in such a game game, the decision to move the game from Castlebar will be seen as a blow to local businesses in the town, who will miss out on the crowds coming to the town for the game.

Speaking on Mid West Radio in the aftermath of the announcement of the change of venue, Connacht GAA Secretary John Prenty said that with the two metre distancing, it is not possible to put any more (3,600 ) than that into McHale Park at the current time.

"For Connacht final day it is different than other games, there are probably 1,000 tickets between player' tickets, sponsors and everything else that cannot go on sale, so we would have only about 2,500 tickets to distribute between county boards in clubs and county boards in Mayo and Galway.

"We explored the possability of going to Croke Park and our management committee met before the u20 game and decided that fairest thing to do was to go to Croke Park, so the people that wanted to see the match would be able to get tickets and I think everybody who would want to go now can be accommodated."

It was put to him that it will be a blow to the county town in terms of a loss of revenue to which he replied "It probably is a loss of revenue to the county town, the amount of people who could have gone to the game would be minimal, we would have expected 30,000 people at a Connacht final in normal times and this could be down to 2,000.

"We had to balance that up against against the desire of Mayo people in particular to see the Mayo team, the big game in Connacht every time it happens is Galway and Mayo and I think this is an opportunity for people to see the game. Lots of people haven't seen any game for two years almost and we had to balance that up as well."

 

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