Ticket touts 'the big winners' as Mayo fans slam venue for replay
TICKET touts will be the big winners and Gaelic games the losers unless the Mayo v Kerry game is switched to Croke Park, fans insist.
The GAA has been vilified by Mayo fans since announcing the All-Ireland semi-final replay will go-ahead this Saturday at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
The organisation did reduce ticket prices for the match following Sunday's epic draw at Croke Park. But the replay cannot take place at GAA headquarters because of a Tourism Ireland backed American football match.
"It's a total disaster," said John O'Mahony who has managed Mayo, Leitrim and Galway and is now a TD in his native Mayo.
"I'm a great supporter of the GAA and I don't believe they get many things wrong but this decision is a big mistake. All-Ireland semi-finals should be played at Croke Park, including the replays."
O'Mahony took Galway to two All-Ireland titles and took Leitrim to their only ever game at Croke Park, an All-Ireland semi-final clash with Dublin in 1994.
"The players deserve to be back at Croke Park. This is no disrespect to Limerick but it is not the proper venue for this game," said O'Mahony. "To rule out a replay on Saturday week because Donegal and Dublin might draw this weekend is a joke. Even if they did draw, I believe both replays should be on September 6 and it would be a fanastic double-header. I know there would be huge demand for tickets, but it's what the players deserve."
O'Mahony predicted: "The big winners this Saturday will be the touts; wait and see - there will be dozens of them outside the Gaelic Grounds."
John Donegan, who runs Mayogaablog.com, said he and his readers had been left stunned by the GAA HQ decision.
"It's another own goal by the GAA," said the telecoms consultant, a Mayo native and member of St Vincent's GAA club in Dublin.
"On top of the Garth Brooks fiasco and the Sky TV deal, here we have our national ground being used for an American football match.
"Mayo fans are being asked to travel to Kerry's backyard for the replay. It's just wrong and we've had a massive response from our fans - we've had a million hits this year already - and they are very unhappy. It's wrong that a brilliant semi-final on Sunday is now overshadowed by this silly decision."
There could actually be more American Football fans at Croke Park this Saturday than there was for the Kerry/Mayo clash on Sunday.
The GAA said sales were already approaching "the high 40,000s" with Tourism Ireland celebrating the fact that 16,000 people from north America and 4,000 from Europe are flying in for the weekend to see college football teams, University of Central Florida (UCF) and Penn State.
"Sports-related tourism has emerged as a significant element of the global travel business in recent years and this game is another wonderful 'hook' for us to highlight Ireland in the all-important US market," said Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons.
Organisers believe more than 50,000 will be at the game; around 52,000 saw the Kerry/Mayo clash.
The tourism trade in Limerick is celebrating a late summer cash bonanza.
"Every single room was booked out within an hour of the final whistle on Sunday," said Sean Lally, manager at the Limerick Strand Hotel.