How To Obtain An All-Ireland Ticket At Cost Price
LAST YEAR my native Mayo qualified for the All Ireland senior football final for the first time in 6 years and I decided to attend the game on the grounds that it might be the last chance I would have to see Sam Maguire brought back to the county.
I started the hunt for a ticket in the usual way asking everybody I knew, especially people with even the vaguest connection with the GAA, to keep an eye out for one, any kind of a ticket. Of course, I got the traditional answers; ‘They’re like hens teeth, “and ‘they’re like gold dust, I never saw them so scarce, etc, etc. ‘but if I come across one I’ll keep you in mind’.
I am at the mercy of those people who control the ticket supply at the lower end of the scale. While I gave my active sports years to the GAA and still attend games, I have not had any personal involvement in a club for a long time and this leaves me on the outside looking in.
It soon became apparent that I would be one of the many of the thousands of Mayo’s to be left watching the game on TV and that irked me, but what could I do about it?
And then I remembered being outside Gill`s pub on Jones`s Road before the 2006 final and seeing another Mayo “Greybeard” walking around holding on high a handmade placard reading “Aon Ticead Anihain, Mas é do Thoil e (Have you a spare ticket please). I Won’t Last Another 55 years”. I approached him out of curiosity and asked him if the placard worked. “Never fails” he said.
I organised a professional placard in the red and green of Mayo. It turned out well and on September 23rd I headed for Dublin and destiny. I carried the sign in a black plastic bin bag and when I arrived at Jones’s Road I unveiled it, stuck it on pole just long enough to get it seen overhead, and started walking up and down through the large crowds.
The streets around Croke Park have a sort of Carnival atmosphere on big game days, with fans from every corner of the country converging and meeting up, and with lots of other folk turning up just to be there to enjoy the craic’.
Within 10 minutes I had an Upper Hogan ticket which I then swopped for a pair of Davin Stands with a man whose daughter could not travel at the last minute.
I was hoping to acquire six tickets, one for myself and the others for a few friends who came along out of curiosity and to see me parading like, as they put it, a sandwich board man. They did not really believe that I would lay hands on any of the hens’ teeth and they planned to watch the match in one of the local pubs.
However, as the placard attracted more attention, I began to get offers of tickets for all sections of the ground and soon had filled my quota and had to start turning down offers.
I had to keep the placard up so my friends could locate me and I now found myself being requested to stand in for snaps with people from all over, and, if I had a mind to, I could have filled my pockets with tickets.
I also met someone who made the whole escapade worth while even if I never saw a ticket; I met the great Paddy Prendergast, full-back on the All Ireland winning Mayo teams of 1950 and 1951 and one of my boyhood heroes.
It was a learning experience and great fun and I met some lovely people, including a few old pals I had thought long dead and who were just as surprised to find me still standing.
The problem on big match days is that you have a lot of people with tickets to spare and a lot of people looking for tickets, but no way for them to get together. I found myself becoming a sort of conduit and putting people with tickets to sell together with those looking for them.
The touts soon spotted what was happening and didn`t like it one little bit; I was interfering with their business. One of them began following me about telling anyone who approached that I had a pocketful of tickets and was selling them for profit, while his mates moved in for the kill. It was an education to see them at work.
The day proved a great success except, of course, for the match result, with Mayo being beaten by Donegal; however, I got several people into Croke Park who would otherwise have had no hope of getting a ticket. I promise that next time Mayo reach the final, If the Good Lord spares me, I`ll be there again with my magic placard.
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