Parties on hold as Dublin and Mayo prepare for replay
Saturday football final expected to provide €20m boost to Dublin’s hospitality sector
Dublin’s David Byrne tackles Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor during the GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final at Croke Park. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
In the end, the Mayo party simply went ahead as planned on Sunday evening, although the absence of the Sam Maguire Cup made for a pretty sobering atmosphere.
It was billed as the party to beat all parties but while the players were clapped into a room decked out with green and red balloons, the 65-year famine ultimately goes on and the champagne was left on ice.
Manager Stephen Rochford summed up the sense of a job only partially completed by his crew when he told the crowd that they are “only half way through the battle”.
Narrow-eyed focusCillian O’ConnorCroke Park
There was the same sort of narrow-eyed focus across the city where Dublin’s players ate together at the Gibson Hotel before heading home.
Nobody was quite sure what the correct protocol was after the first drawn final since 2000, a smile or a frown.
Just about everyone else with an interest in the biggest day of the Gaelic football calendar, however, was beaming, from the GAA itself to the hostelries and businesses that stand to benefit on the double from the unexpected second date.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) suggested that the replay would be worth about €20 million to the Dublin hospitality sector.
“It would be in and around that figure alright,” said RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins. “The fact that it’s on a Saturday evening as well is quite significant. For Sunday games, by and large, supporters are taking in the game and heading out of the city fairly quickly afterwards.
“But you see a totally different dynamic with the Saturday evening games where fans come up, maybe stay the Friday and Saturday night and return on the Sunday. They make a weekend of it.
“And, of course, if Dublin win, then the city goes bananas, especially on a Saturday night so it’s a very significant thing that has happened, an unexpected and welcome thing from our perspective.”
Graeme McQueen, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce’s spokesman, agrees that it is a win, win situation for the city’s businesses.
“Absolutely. The big events ultimately drive what happens in the hospitality sector in Dublin and this is another massive event that has landed on our door step,” said McQueen.
“We’ve tried to capture an exact figure on the spend and the worth to the city of a game like this but it’s very hard to say. It’s definitely significant.
“The tourist season probably runs up until early September and what this has done really is to give us another very busy weekend that we wouldn’t have had.”
Hurling final replays
It remains to be seen who will be in possession of the cup at that stage and at which hotel it will be paraded on Saturday week.
“I’d imagine we’ll do something similar again after the replay in terms of the hotel and the banquet,” said Mayo pro Paul Cunnane. “It was unusual on Sunday evening, the atmosphere. It was something we hadn’t planned for but we didn’t have any other choice than to push on ahead with it. People had paid for their tickets and everything was ordered.
“The players were in upbeat mood. The general feeling was that they’re still in a very good position to challenge Dublin. They’re definitely looking forward to doing it again.”
Dublin, perhaps, feel they have most scope for improvement. They scored just six points from open play at the weekend and their overall 2-9 haul was down almost eight points on their championship average up to then of just shy of 23 points per game.