THE former Kilkenny hurler John Power has added his voice to those condemning the decision to introduce a €10 hike on ticket prices for today's All-Ireland hurling finals.
Stand tickets were increased from €70 to €80, with the GAA citing increased costs, including match-day entertainment, as a contributing factor. Terrace tickets were subjected to a €5 increase to €40.
Power said he believed supporters were being unfairly taken advantage of, particularly those who, like himself, have families. Today's admission fees will cost him, his wife and two kids €320 before supplementary costs are factored in like food and travel and, in the case of others, accommodation.
"For a family going to a game, the general feeling is that it's too much especially in the climate we're in," he said. "If it had been left even at 70 [euro], or brought back to 60, but no one had a say [in the decision]. I think that's what has held ticket sales back. Clubs are sending them back and it never happened before."
Amid reports that clubs in Kilkenny were returning tickets unsold -- one club, Black and Whites returned 40 tickets to their county board last week -- the GAA took the unusual step of announcing additional tickets sales on Twitter yesterday.
The tickets went on sale to the public at a GAA ticket office on Dorset Street in Dublin and as many as 150 were said to be made available after being returned. In the context of recent finals between Kilkenny and Tipperary, where tickets have been in hot demand, it is a highly unusual development for the game not to be close to sold out.
Power and his family have attended all three matches in Kilkenny's championship campaign to date, availing of cut-price family ticket offers. "Everyone is appreciative of that, but at the end of the day, this is 12-14 per cent of a rise and sure everything is on its knees, the economy is down a while, like. I think it was a blunder on their behalf and it's only now I think they realise it."
The GAA did not respond to calls on the matter on Friday.
The Tipperary board received an extra allocation of tickets yesterday and say they are very pleased with the take up.
"We have had no complaints about the price of tickets or the absence of family tickets," said PRO Ger Ryan yesterday. "There has been a very good take up, although there are still one or two knocking around."
A crowd close on 80,000 -- over 2,000 shy of capacity -- is expected to attend the climax of the hurling year and a third instalment of the rivalry between heavyweights Kilkenny and Tipperary. It's the first time that the same counties will have met in three consecutive senior finals.
Tipperary ended Kilkenny's bid for an historic five-in-a-row last September and the time since has had Brian Cody preoccupied with regaining the MacCarthy Cup, a coveted prize that they have grown accustomed to housing during his highly-decorated time in charge. This is Kilkenny's eighth final in 10 years and their sixth in a row.
Under Cody's guidance they have contested 10 finals, winning seven. Tipperary, with a reputation for electrifying forward play and scoring goals, aim to retain the title for the first time since 1965.
Kilkenny come into the match with a clean bill of health that's in stark contrast to last year's stricken tale of woe. Henry Shefflin, their inspirational leader, departed only 12 minutes into the 2010 final, succumbing to one of the most talked about injuries in Irish sporting history. Their day disintegrated and they were torched by a three-goal firestorm from Lar Corbett.
Their one injury scare leading into this final -- hamstring concern Colin Fennelly -- has been passed fit to play. Kilkenny, with a number of their players in the twilight of their careers, are determined to empty whatever they have left in the tank.
Whether that will be enough to subdue and overthrow favourites Tipperary we will have to wait and see.
Shefflin and Eddie Brennan are looking to equal the record of Christy Ring and John Doyle, who have won a record eight senior medals on the field of play. They and Noel Hickey are three surviving members of Cody's first All- Ireland win as manager in 2000.
In the curtain-raiser, Dublin contest a first minor final since 1983, facing the ever-familiar Galway. Dublin last won an All-Ireland minor championship in 1965, the same year Tipperary last retained the senior title. Could history be about to repeat itself?
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