Hurling quarter-finals in new Páirc Uí Chaoimh selling out fast

GAA claim demand justifies the decision to stage matches as stand-alone fixtures

The construction at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last year – the renovated stadium will open this weekend. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

The construction at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last year – the renovated stadium will open this weekend. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

 

With the first matches in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh due to be played within days, the GAA are hopeful of a record attendance for the two All-Ireland quarter-finals, with stand tickets no longer on public sale.

According to a GAA spokesperson, the interest shown in the Clare-Tipperary and Waterford-Wexford matches more than justified the decision to stage them as stand-alone fixtures.

The record attendance for All-Ireland quarter-finals was set under the previous format, which provided four matches, which aggregated over 100,000 10 years ago, but since the championship reverted to two fixtures at this stage there hasn’t been a crowd of over 80,000.

The rebuilt Cork venue has a capacity of 45,000 and according to county administrator Diarmuid O’Donovan, the crowds won’t be far off that mark.

“It seems to be heading in the direction of full houses,” he said.

“Terrace tickets are about all that’s left. We have a very limited supply of tickets, which is creating difficulties locally for people who want to come along because they were at the opening of the old ground in 1976. We have no more access to tickets than we’d have if the matches were on in Thurles. They are All-Ireland fixtures – we just happen to be hosting.

“The competing counties are getting the lion’s share. We’re lucky that we’re in the intermediate final on Sunday as a curtain-raiser so we’ll get a few more for that day. I think it’s going to be about 40,000 on Saturday and a full house on Sunday.”

The first fixture to be played in the new ground will be an intermediate club championship match between Blarney and Valley Rovers this Wednesday, July 19th, at 7.30.

Playing surface

Meanwhile Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna has defended the stadium playing surface after comments from Jim Gavin, manager of All-Ireland champions Dublin. In a radio interview he criticised the staging of a concert just a week before the Leinster final.

“I could see both sets of players slipping in that part,” he told Newstalk. “It was very hard, that’s one thing I’d say about it. It’s not a fault of the groundsmen – they were put in a situation to turn the pitch around – so it’s probably for the management of Croke Park to have a look at it. A provincial showcase football game in Leinster, is that the right thing to do?”

McKenna said that the turf is rigorously tested both before and after it’s laid and that the surface in entirely replaced on each occasion it has to be taken up, as happened again last weekend after the Dublin-Kildare match in preparation for the weekend’s U2 concert.

The pitch will have to be ready for the All-Ireland qualifiers a week later on 29th July.

“No. We were very happy with it,” said McKenna, “and that’s not something we just come out with but we do a lot of testing on it. The surface was found to be well within standard norms. I don’t think there was an issue. It’s an area we’ve been dealing with for a number of years and technically the pitch maintenance has been improving over all of that time.

“We don’t do this on the basis of ‘suck it and see’. We test the pitch before it’s harvested and when it’s laid and we’re always conscious of making sure it’s within the accepted parameters, how much water goes on it, how much spiking it needs. It’s a technical process and our approach has become more and more scientific over the years.”

Could the quick turnaround digging up and relaying not have caused slippage as alleged?

“No, it’s a new pitch. We pick up the old turf and discard it before putting down new grass.”

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