All-Ireland final ticket hunt hits fever pitch for desperate fans
IF you know a fella who knows a fella who might have a ticket, it's getting near time to make that call.
As Sunday's All-Ireland final clash between Dublin and Kerry approaches, the window for waffle and empty promises is closing and the scramble for tickets is well under way.
There's only one rule: don't believe you have a ticket until it's in your hand.
Such is the demand, the GAA says it could easily fill Croke Park twice; but with a capacity of 82,300, thousands of football fans will be disappointed and will have to watch the game at home.
A total of 11,000 tickets have been allocated to the Kerry County Board and Dublin has received 18,000 to distribute.
"Normally, when All-Ireland tickets are distributed around the country, we get a certain amount of returns from the counties that are not involved, but this has not been the case this year," a spokesman for the GAA told the Irish Independent.
The involvement of Dublin in this year's championship has also dried up what's normally a useful source for Kerry fans.
"In normal circumstances there would be a lot of Kerry people working in Dublin and involved in Dublin clubs but that source has been cut off this year because Dublin is involved, and that has placed extra demand on Kerry," said Jerome Conway, chairman of Kerry County Board.
Meanwhile, one Kerry supporter who has collected over 9,000 programmes from GAA matches has no guarantee he will be able to buy his 2011 programme in Croke Park.
Michael Parker (79) still has the programmes from every All-Ireland final that was ever fought between Dublin and Kerry.
In his collection, he even has the programme for the Munster final from the year he was born in 1932 and he's hoping to watch this year's final in Croke Park with his son Michael and grandson Gavin (7).
He also has the 1947 programme from the match between Kerry and Cavan -- the only All-Ireland final to take place in foreign soil at the Polo Grounds in New York.
"I have all the programmes up to 2010 but I hope to collect the 2011 programme in person," he said.
However, such is the demand for All-Ireland tickets, with only four days to go the Parkers are still waiting.
Michael's club, Crotta GAA in Kilflynn in north Kerry, held its lottery for its precious allocation of 60 tickets on Monday night. There were 101 names in the hat for the draw, including Michael's son, but his name was not among those drawn out.