FANS FLOCK TO CROKER

»100,000 set to de­scend on cap­i­tal for Mayo-dubs bat­tle » GAA chief urges driv­ers to take ex­tra care on roads

Irish Sunday Mirror - - NEWS - BY TREVOR QUINN

With so many peo­ple mak­ing the trip to Croker, it’s very im­por­tant we travel with care

AOGAN O FEARGHAIL GAA PRES­I­DENT, YES­TER­DAY

TENS of thou­sands of mad Mayo fans and die-hard Dubs from around the world will de­scend on Croke Park to­day for foot­ball’s bat­tle of the giants.

Some 82,300 lucky fans will pack Croker this af­ter­noon for the mouth­wa­ter­ing All-ire­land foot­ball fi­nal – a re­peat of last year – with an­other 20,000 fill­ing sur­round­ing bars.

Mayo are hop­ing to ban­ish a 66-year-old curse and bring Sam home for the first time since 1951, while hot favourites Dublin are aim­ing for three-in-a row.

Many sup­port­ers will spend this morn­ing scour­ing wa­ter­ing holes and ho­tels in a last-ditch hope for tick­ets as ex­cite­ment reaches fever pitch.

The coun­try’s two best-sup­ported teams are de­ter­mined to write their names into the his­tory books, and fans are match­ing their in­ten­sity.

A flock of geese dis­play­ing the Mayo colours was spot­ted on Achill Is­land – pos­si­bly look­ing for tick­ets, with de­mand at un­prece­dented lev­els.

Many are chang­ing hands on­line for €500 each, but gardai have warned touts will be tar­geted by un­der­cover of­fi­cers.

The plan to hit rogue ven­dors is part of a mas­sive polic­ing plan for the sold­out match.

Se­rial of­fend­ers can be hit with fines of up to €10,000, while con­vic­tion on in­dict­ment could lead to a six-month prison sen­tence.

And after a week of car­nage on the roads, where six peo­ple trag­i­cally lost their lives in three sep­a­rate col­li­sions, the pres­i­dent of the GAA is ap­peal­ing to sup­port­ers trav­el­ling to the Gaelic foot­ball show­piece to get there and re­turn home safe.

Aogan O Fearghail said: “All-ire­land week­ends are among the most mem­o­rable in our cal­en­dar and we all look for­ward to them im­mensely.

“How­ever, with so many peo­ple in

tran­sit – mak­ing long and short jour­neys – it’s im­por­tant we drive with care. We all want to see great foot­ball but we also want to see ev­ery­one re­turn home safely, win, lose or draw.”

Stephen Rochford’s Mayo side are de­ter­mined to end a six-decade famine

for the Maguire tro­phy, while the con­fi­dent Dubs are aim­ing to clinch their first three-in-a-row since 1923.

Both sides have named un­changed teams for the clash, with the Sky Blues hop­ing to beat the Western­ers in the fi­nal for the third time in five years. It

comes de­spite spec­u­la­tion that Paddy Dur­can would force his way back into the start­ing line-up hav­ing fea­tured off the bench in the semi-fi­nal re­play win over Kerry.

That change, or oth­ers, might still be in the off­ing ahead of Sun­day’s

3.30pm throw-in, with both man­agers keep­ing each other guess­ing.

Jim Gavin has also ig­nored calls by some me­dia an­a­lysts for Diar­muid Con­nolly to be in­cluded.

The Marino man served a lengthy 12-week ban and was briefly in­tro­duced at the tail-end of the semi-fi­nal vic­tory against Ty­rone.

Mean­while, the Air Corps are set to do a fly-past of Croke Park to­wards the end of Amhran na bh­fi­ann, be­fore the throw-in.

Half-time entertainment will be pro­vided by Imelda May, who last month sung the Ir­ish na­tional an­them be­fore Conor Mc­gre­gor’s fight with Floyd May­weather in Las Ve­gas. In the

mi­nor match, mu­si­cal act Blas will per­form at half-time, while the Done­gal 1992 side, this year’s ju­bilee team, will be in­tro­duced to the crowds be­tween the two games.

The GAA are keen to re­mind match­go­ers not to bring large bags or back­packs, and there will be search pro­ce­dures in place.

Mean­while, tem­per­a­tures last night plum­meted as low as 2C, with frost in some ar­eas, but Met Eire­ann said con­di­tions are set to be bet­ter to­day.

The fore­caster said: “Sun­day will be a dry and bright day.

“After a cool start, tem­per­a­tures will rise to around 14 to 17 de­grees.”

news@irish­mir­ror.ie

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