Croke Park braced for bumper attendance over holiday weekend
Addition of Mayo-Roscommon replay could see total figure climb to around 200,000
Roscommon’s Donie Smith kicks the equalising point from a free to secure a draw against Mayo in the All-Ireland quarater-final at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Reduced ticket prices for next Monday’s All-Ireland football quarter-final replay between Mayo and Roscommon could help push the combined Bank Holiday weekend attendance at GAA headquarters towards the bumper 200,000 mark.
Confirmation that the all-Connacht replay has been fixed for Croke Park at 2.0 on Monday – and will also go out live on RTÉ2 – completes the three-day line-up.
That line-up will also feature All-Ireland champions Dublin against Monaghan (6.0) and Tyrone against Armagh (4.0) in Saturday evening’s All-Ireland football quarter-final double-bill which is now expected to draw close to a capacity crowd.
Sandwiched in between is the first of the All-Ireland hurling semi-finals between Galway and Tipperary, which has a 4.0 throw-in on the Sunday.
Just over 100,000 came through the turnstiles at Croke Park over the weekend for the two football double-headers – 38,900 at Saturday’s fourth round qualifiers, and 65,746 at Sunday’s quarter-finals. Overall attendances across all four provinces have already been marginally up this year, and Monday’s quarter-final replay will boost those figures even further.
The GAA have announced reduced ticket prices for Monday’s replay, after Roscommon and Mayo played out a thrilling 1-12 to 2-9 drawn on Sunday: stand tickets have been reduced to €30 (from €35) and likewise the terrace tickets to €20 (from €25). Normal group and club pass rates will also apply, as do reductions for juveniles (€5) and Senior Citizens (€20; refunds in operation).
Tickets are available from the usual outlets including the gaa.ie, Centra and SuperValu stores and through county boards.
The Roscommon-Mayo rematch will also include extra-time if necessary, and barring any further replays, by late Monday afternoon the football championship will have been reduced to the final four. Kerry have already earned their semi-final sport and await the winners on August 20th.
Both the Roscommon and Mayo managers had indicated their preference for the replay to be fixed in Croke Park, despite Roscommon manager Kevin McStay’s quite damning assessment of the pitch surface at Croke Park on Sunday.
Mayo will be playing their seventh game of the summer, and if they are to go on to win the All-Ireland, will require nine games at least – although still one short than the 10 games it took Tyrone to win the All-Ireland in 2005.
Roscommon may have rescued the game late on thanks to an injury time equalising free from Donal Smith, before seeing Mayo squander three later chances for a winner, but will still feel confident of beating Mayo for the first time in the championship since 2001, and also winning their first game in Croke Park since 1980.
Dublin will start as strong favourites in their quarter-final meeting against Monaghan, even in the continued absence of the suspended Diarmuid Connolly (he will be free to play again at the semi-final stage, should Dublin advance).
Manager Jim Gavin is also reported a largely clean bill of health, although Malachy O’Rourke’s team did give them a serious test in the last round of the Allianz Football League in Clones, Dublin coming through late to thanks to Jack McCaffrey’s injury-time goal take the 2-15 to 1-15 win, their 36th consecutive win between league and championships, before eventually losing the league final to Kerry.
Tyrone, meanwhile, renew their once great rivalry with Armagh, which famously reached a crescendo in the 2003 All-Ireland final – the first single-province affair – which Tyrone won by three points.
Both those remaining football quarter-finals air live on Sky only.
All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals: Tyrone v Armagh, Croke Park, 4.0- Sky; Dublin v Monaghan, Croke Park, 6.0 - Sky
All-Ireland SHC semi-final: Galway v Tipperary, Croke Park, 4.0 - RTÉ/Sky
All-Ireland SFC quarter-final replay: Mayo v Roscommon, Croke Park, 2.0 (Extra-time if necessary) RTÉ2