GAA declined to increase All-Ireland final capacity due to lack of ‘expertise’

President McCarthy explains why Croke Park will remain at 50% for Mayo v Tyrone

GAA president Larry McCarthy has said a lack of expertise is behind the decision not to expand the capacity of Croke Park for the All-Ireland SFC final between Mayo and Tyrone.

Up to 41,150 fans will be allowed through the turnstiles on September 11th, with no vaccination passport required for entry.

Government will allow 75 per cent attendances from September 6th for supporters who are fully vaccinated - however this will not include the All-Ireland senior football final.

Mayo reached the final after they lifted their Dublin hoodoo with a 0-17 to 0-14 extra-time win on August 14th. Tyrone also needed extra-time to beat Kerry 3-14 to 0-22 last weekend.

And speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Thursday, McCarthy said the decision to not try and accommodate up to 61,000 at HQ for their upcoming clash was a “logistical issue.”

He said: “It was a logistical issue - we have not trialled being able to check vaccine passports or vaccine documentation.

“So it was too onerous to get 60,000 into Croke Park in a condensed time. We didn’t think we had the expertise to do it so we decided we would stick with the current amount.

“You’re not only checking a vaccine passport but you’re checking a photo ID and you’re checking a ticket. That could take up to three minutes. If we were super competent at it we might be able to reduce that but the time frame was much too onerous for us to get it done efficiently.

“All tickets have been allocated at this stage, and about 50 per cent had been allocated by the time we got word from the government that there was a possibility of going to 61,000.

“We would have liked to do it, no doubt. But we decided with all caution that we should stay with the current figure.”

The GAA’s decision will be a disappointment to both counties, with tickets - predictably - likely to be at a premium.

On Wednesday the GAA released a further 1,150 tickets for the showpiece, bringing Croke Park up to 50 per cent capacity.

Mayo are bidding for their first All-Ireland title since 1951, having lost 10 finals since - the most recent being played behind closed doors in 2020.

With Tyrone also bidding to lift Sam Maguire for the first time since 2008 there will be a clamour for tickets, and McCarthy has confirmed both counties have received slightly smaller allocation than in previous years.

He said: “In 2019 each county participating in the final got 13,500 tickets. This year Mayo and Tyrone are getting 11,450.

“They’re getting much more stand tickets this time because we’re not using the terraces. The cuts have come for the non-participating counties.”

On Saturday, up to 25,000 supporters will be allowed to attend the Aviva Stadium for Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan. This will be the first time the Republic have played in front of a home crowd since before the pandemic.

This precedes the All-Ireland women’s football finals at Croke Park on Sunday. Up to 40,000 could attend a triple-header which sees Dublin take on Meath, Wexford face Westmeath and Antrim meet Wicklow.