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
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.”
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FEVER PITCH Mayo man John with kids and grandkids
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