Thursday 26 April 2018

Pairc ready to go for last hurrah

John Tarrant

PAIRC UÍ Chaoimh is sure to pack a mighty atmosphere on Sunday for the Munster Senior Hurling Final between Cork and Limerick. And the occasion promises to be full of nostalgia down by banks of the Lee on the last big staging in the current stadium.

However, Cork supporters will be keen for a better change of fortune than that ensured against Kerry in the football equivalent. Cork never looked like producing a performance and victory which would have suitably marked the last Munster football decider down by the Marina.

With an attendance in excess of 21,000 present at the famous stadium before its redevelopment, the hosts were totally outplayed as the Kingdom won at a canter to triumph by one of the biggest margins since Pairc Uí Chaoimh opened in 1976.

Now attention turns to the hurling showpiece, Cork attempting to turn the tables on a defeat by Limerick last season. Controversy has surrounded the staging with demand for tickets exceeding availability. As part of a home and away agreement between the counties, Cork are entitled to play host to the Treaty men on Sunday.

However, capacity in Cork was initially limited to just over 32,000, almost 10,000 less than attended the corresponding tussle last season between the same counties in Limerick's Gaelic Grounds.

Expectations are the Munster Council can raise numbers to above 35,000 in accordance with a report from the GAA's Health and Safety Committee. A number of stipulations had to be met, including the deployment of a professional security firm to oversee a contra-flow system to manage the crowds inside the stadium on big match day.

Cork GAA administrator Diarmuid O'Donovan spoke of the successful logistics behind the Cork and Kerry staging was the perfect dress rehearsal for next Sunday's final.

"All health and safety requirements are in place for the meeting of Cork and Limerick. The big advantage from our point is it all went without incident for Cork and Kerry and everything is now in situ for the hurling final," he said.

Interest in the game is phenomenal with no public sale of tickets through normal retail outlets nor are juvenile or family tickets available. Club allocation is not meeting demand as Cork go in search of provincial honours for the first time since 2006.

Clubs alerted on Tuesday saw tickets available to clubs well below requirements. For example, dual junior clubs will be allocated a total of 24 tickets with 12 for single affilliated junior clubs.

North Cork is well represented on the Cork panel, the Kanturk trio of Anthony Nash, Lorcán McLoughlin and Aidan Walsh joined by Mark Ellis, Millstreet; William Egan, Kilbrin and Jamie Coughlan, Newtownshandrum.