Hurling fans face travel chaos on All-Ireland final day
Contingency plans being put in place for fans as stakeholders seek to avoid traffic gridlock
Micheal Cody (left) and Jamie Dunleavy, both from Carrick-on-Suir, at the hurling semi-final between Cork and Tipperary at Croke Park. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
Tipperary and Kilkenny hurling fans are making contingency plans to get to Croke Park for the All-Ireland Hurling Final amid fears of a “complete nightmare” on the roads next Sunday due to the Iarnród Éireann strike.
Iarnród Éireann members of the National Bus and Railworkers’ Union and Siptu are planning a two-day work stoppage for Sunday and Monday. The strike will coincide with the clash between Tipperary and Kilkenny which is likely to see most of the 82,300 fans from both counties travelling via the same roads.
AA Ireland spokesman Conor Faughnan said the strike would put additional pressures on the State’s other transport networks.
“We know from Irish Rail that on match days they do get huge additional volumes of passengers,” he said. “They would expect to pick up about an extra 20,000, so this will put more pressure on the other transport modes, and that means the roads.”
He said roadworks at Newlands Cross were a “significant concern” for travelling supporters. “That will probably affect both sets of supporters in large numbers.
“What we are saying to anyone coming up is that if they are not familiar with those roadworks, it is well worth taking the time now before you travel to have a look at them. They’re confusing and they will cause delays.”
John Mackay, chairman of the Kilkenny County Board’s Supporters’ Club, said people were “very annoyed” about the strike and highlighted Newlands Cross as a “complete nightmare” for travelling fans. “There are new filling stations going in there as well, so it’s a mess.”
He said approximately 7,000 people would normally travel from Kilkenny by train, but private bus companies running extra buses to cope with demand were getting “a lot of bookings”.
“Tipperary and Kilkenny fans will be coming up by the same road, which is a major problem,” he said. “Then you have Limerick who will be joining in as well because they’re in the minor match with us. It’s going to be seriously bad. I know people who are planning to leave at 7am. Normally it would take two hours.”
Tipperary County Board spokesman Andy Fogarty said the strike was a “huge inconvenience”, but that the county board would be posting travel information such as private bus companies on its website throughout the week.
“Irish Rail would normally lay on special trains for the final so it would be quite a big number that travel up,” he said. “It certainly is a huge inconvenience for fans with the cost of getting there and everything else. It’s a day out for a lot of people. There is normally great craic on the train, particularly coming home if you’ve won.”