LIFE-LONG Kilkenny hurling fans are snubbing All-Ireland final tickets in favour of staying at home after prices soared to €80 for Sunday's game.
Croke Park bosses are expecting a sell-out crowd of 82,300 for the clash between Tipperary and the Cats this weekend.
However, the Irish Independent has learned that a number of GAA clubs in Kilkenny still have unsold tickets with just three days to go.
There has been no slowdown in Tipperary, however, with the County Board there reporting no returns from clubs. Fans are complaining of the €10 price hike for stand tickets, and an increase in terrace tickets of €5 (up to €40) for the final.
There are also complaints that no family tickets are available. A typical family with three children will shell out €400 for tickets alone – before they travel to and from the game or buy food and drink.
A spokesperson for the Kilkenny County Board told the Irish Independent that tickets were “on the expensive side”.
“We feel ticket prices should be varied,” he said. “It’s not fair that there’s no change in price if you’re sitting behind the goal in comparison to the middle of the Hogan Stand.”
He also revealed that ticket sales are “slower” than normal as people are struggling to find the cash.
However, he said he was unaware of tickets being returned to Croke Park as yet.
Any tickets returned to the Kilkenny County Board that are not allocated to other clubs in the area will be sent back to GAA headquarters.
There they will be reassigned to Tipperary clubs where they are still in demand. Ned Moran, secretary of Blacks and Whites GAA club in Kilkenny, confirmed his club returned over 40 tickets.
“I know a lot of other clubs returned tickets too. I’m heavily involved in the GAA and I know there is nothing better than the atmosphere in Croke Park, but you cut your cloth to your measure and families can’t afford it like they used to three or four years ago.
“I’m on holidays in Kerry now and it probably cost the same as the day out will for myself and my wife in Croke Park. Everything else is coming down, I don’t see why the tickets are going up,” he added.
However, Mr Moran admitted that Kilkenny fans may be less eager to shell out when they have been “spoilt” by being in six finals in a row.
Tipperary County Board secretary Ger Ryan said the feedback in their county is that tickets are “in short supply”.
“People didn’t go during the year in some cases, they were saving up and hoping we’d be in the final. What I’m hearing is that clubs here are looking for more tickets rather than less.”
Croke Park spokesman Alan Milton defended the GAA’s decision to increase the price for All- Ireland final tickets, pointing out that there’s been an overall reduction for fans throughout the year.
“We reduced ticket prices by €5 for every other game, we had extra entertainment in the stadium, so we had to introduce the €10 increase to offset losses.”
He said fans had made savings at qualifier matches, before adding that the event represented value for money compared to “other sporting events”.
“Over 80pc of what we make is reinvested in the promotion of the games,” he said. “I’m going to the match myself, but I have a lot of friends who won’t make it. It’s just too expensive for many,” said Clara club secretary Carmel Brennan.