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OPINION: GAA’s shift to online ticketing leaves older fans out in the cold

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by Eamonn Fitzgerald

This week I am returning to an issue I have highlighted previously in this column. The biblical story of “no room at the inn” sprang to my mind prior to the colleges final at Lewis Road on Saturday afternoon last.

As usual for matches in the stadium, the stewarding was excellent, but some supporters did not gain entry. Oh yes, there was plenty of room inside in the stadium, both in the stand and on the terraces. My estimate was an attendance of about 2,000, but it could - and should - have been more.

Some people arrived at the gates with their tenners but were refused entry. I met many of these disgruntled patrons, all great supporters of the GAA over their lifetimes. Entry to the game was by pre-paid ticket only. The GAA is moving very much to the cashless norm of all-ticket games only, especially intercounty and also big club games. This colleges game was also cashless.

I can see some logic to this relatively new departure by the GAA. One can buy a match ticket online. All you need then is your mobile phone to book a ticket, which can be scanned from your phone at the turnstiles.

Scan yes, so easy, but while it isn’t a scam, some genuine supporters are being denied access. And most of these are older people, who may not be tech-savvy. They have not embraced the digital age and are uncomfortable with modern technology. They are unable, or afraid, to press the correct button.

There are still people who do not have a credit card and even if they do, they are very reluctant to give out their account details when the message comes up to ‘proceed to buy’.

In the case of last Saturday’s game, the Munster PPS council, the organisers of the fixture, did not get the message out early enough and clearly enough that it was an all-ticket game. Social media is not frequented by the cohort of supporters who turned up with their OAP rate of a fiver (great value by Munster PPC). Everyone does not log on to Facebook. How were they to know that admission had to be pre-paid?

Imagine the grandparents arriving at Lewis Road to cheer on their grandchildren on this big colleges final day. Will the youngsters make the Kerry minors?

It would have been a very easy thing to do on Saturday last to have a ticket van parked outside the grounds where people could give cash for a ticket and then proceed into the game.

That is done for the intercounty and big club matches. The facility to purchase match tickets from local retail outlets gives some people the opportunity to buy one, but we need only look at the experience in the week before the Kerry v Dublin game for clarification. The tickets went online on the Monday, but by lunchtime the online tickets and the availability to purchase in a local supermarket ceased to exist. The match was an early sell-out.

I met too many disgruntled people outside the Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday last. Genuine GAA supporters deserve better. Technology is not infallible. In December 2020, the GAA nationally paid out a reported €10 million to Ticketmaster, the USA company owned by Live Nation Entertainment, to provide a five-year service contract.

On Sunday last the system broke down, causing pandemonium for people who wished to attend the National League hurling games.

Get back to the system of allocating the tickets through the clubs. The genuine supporter will then be rewarded for attending club games and supporting the club’s lotto.

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Killarney set for festival of football at Spa GAA’s Club 7s

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The third annual Killarney Club 7s tournament will be staged next weekend (June 1-2) at Spa GAA grounds with 36 clubs and over 500 players due to take part.

The hugely successful event has already become a popular fixture of the local sporting calendar with large crowds flocking to Tullig for two days of football and entertainment.

With Heineken as title sponsors and support also coming from the likes of Kellihers Toyota, Killarney Credit Union, Sheahan’s, GMIB.ie, Daly’s SuperValu and O’Callaghan Coaches, attendees will be treated to top quality food and drink on site, as well as a wide array of live music. Acclaimed group Chasing Abbey are the headline act on Saturday with Super Céilí rounding things off on Sunday night.

On the pitch, men’s and women’s teams from all over the country will compete for €10,000 in prize money.

Matches will be played across three excellent pitches, all of which can be easily viewed from all areas of the grounds.

The group stages will be played on Saturday with the knockout rounds scheduled for Sunday. Participating teams include Confey from Kildare, St Finbarr’s from Cork, Castleknock from Dublin and, all the way from Germany, Berlin GAA.

The hosts Spa won the 2023 men’s final in dramatic fashion when a last-gasp goal saw them beat Cuala in front of a boisterous crowd.

Free shuttle buses will be running to Killarney when the festivities wind down at 10pm each night.

For more information, visit killarneyclub7s.ie.

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Fierce rivals Celtic and Athletic set for tense Kerry District League final

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Killarney Celtic’s dominance of the local junior soccer scene appears to show no signs of letting up after the Derreen-based club added more silverware to their cabinet last Sunday – but their fiercest rivals are hoping to rip up the script in this weekend’s league final.

Last week the Hoops defeated Tralee Dynamos in the final of the Greyhound Bar KO Cup to make it six-in-a-row in the county’s most prestigious knockout competition.

Lee Downing was the hero on the day as he scored twice in the first half to put his side in the ascendency. In the end, that was enough to get the job done as the Killarney lads held on for a 2-0 win.

The Celts have the opportunity to complete another league and cup double this weekend, although they will be pushed all the way by a talented young Killarney Athletic outfit in the Premier A final.

The match will take place on Sunday at 4pm in Mounthawk Park in Tralee and Brendan Moloney’s Blues will be eager to bring their neighbours’ remarkable run to an abrupt end.

Athletic will unfortunately be without stalwart Shane Doolan who recently suffered an ACL injury.

Supporters of both clubs are urged to make the journey to Tralee and get behind their teams for one last time this season.

The Killarney Athletic B team play Iveragh United in the Tommy Healy Cup final replay at the same venue at 1pm.

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