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Blue magic

AFTER a recession-hit summer of shrinking attendances, the 'full house' signs are being dusted down and ready for erection outside Croke Park this weekend.

GAA chiefs are now gearing up for a virtual capacity crowd of 82,300, their first of 2010, when Dublin take on Cork in Sunday's SFC semi-final, chasing a first All-Ireland final appearance in 15 years.

The association has now decided to release approximately 2,000 tickets previously held back for security reasons - a clear indication of the growing demand out there, especially among the born-again Sky Blue army.

In recent weeks, in the wake of the Leinster final pitch invasion, Croke Park officials have covered the first three rows of the Hogan, Davin and Cusack Stands with a plastic mesh and kept these tickets off the market. Now, though, because of mounting ticket demand, they feel compelled to put these tickets on sale for Sunday's showdown.

Elsewhere, it's understood the GAA will be monitoring a website that is already offering All-Ireland football and hurling final tickets for sale at inflated prices - even before the tickets have been released.

At time of going to press, www.needaticket.ie was offering All-Ireland football final tickets at prices ranging between €330 (David Stand Upper) and €550 (Premium seats) while tickets for the hurling decider were priced at €150 (terrace), €250-340 (stands) and €400-500 (premium seats).

The same website was also offering tickets for this Sunday's clash, with terrace tickets priced at €45 and stand tickets ranging between €60 and €80.