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Opinion: Unfair FAI ticket policy is anti-culchie discrimination

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by Adam Moynihan

As a conscientious father, I feel it is my duty to teach my son how to be humble. With that in mind, I decided to take him to his first Ireland football match.

The friendly international against Belgium last Saturday evening seemed like a good option. So, I went about booking the trip from Killarney to Dublin.

Match tickets wouldn’t be a problem, I thought, so I checked out the train and accommodation first. Irish Rail wanted €83 for the two of us. Bit steep, maybe, but nothing new there. The hotel would set us back €150 a night. I had to go with two nights in the end because the early trains were booked out on the Saturday. That’s €383.

Add in food and a mandatory trip to the Disney Store on Grafton Street and it would be an expensive weekend. But the life lesson would be worth it.

As it turned out, the match tickets would be a problem. Not because they were sold out, but because the FAI released tickets for Saturday's Belgium match as part of a ‘duo’ package with the Switzerland match the following Tuesday. If you wanted to purchase a ticket for the first, you had to purchase a ticket for the second. No exceptions.

The duo ticket was advertised as €70 for adults and €50 for under 16s. That’s €120 for an adult plus a child for the two games. But their advertising was misleading; adult tickets were, indeed, €70, but when you went to Ticketmaster and tried to buy a child ticket and an adult ticket together, all the adult options were €100. So it was actually €150 for an adult and a child for two games.

And it was effectively €150 for one game in my case as I only wanted to take him to the Belgium fixture.

Do they really expect anyone from the western half of the country to travel to the capital twice in four days, or to stay up and take a five-day holiday, just to see two 90-minute football matches? Two meaningless friendlies, by the way. Under an interim manager. With no tournament on the horizon, and no fixtures of any significance for another four months.

Clearly the duo package was made with Dubliners in mind. It is completely useless to the rest of us so making it mandatory is really nothing short of anti-culchie discrimination.

It’s easy to imagine FAI CEO Jonathan Hill paraphrasing that cracker factory boss in The Simpsons. “Maybe people outside of Dublin like football. We don’t know. Frankly, we don’t want to know. It’s a market we can do without.”

The bizarre policy isn’t even fair to Dubliners, really. Why should they have to pay for both games when they might only want to go to one? Who knows, maybe they can only afford to go to one. Being alive is expensive business these days.

I've seen one or two people suggest that you could always buy the duo ticket and sell the one you don't want. Why should fans be selling tickets on the FAI's behalf? Surely that's their job?

Single tickets for the Switzerland game did come out after the Belgium game. But what good is that to people who felt pressured into getting the duo ticket?

To me it looks like a cash-grab by the FAI, who will probably say that their goal is to boost attendances rather than to grab cash. Well, there were 13,000 empty seats on Saturday and 18,000 on Tuesday. (Those are the official numbers, anyway.)

If that's what attendances look like after a boost then I'd hate to see them without one.

In the end, my son and I did manage to make it to Ireland v Belgium. I had no intention of paying for the duo ticket but fortunately, after I complained about the policy on Twitter, a friendly stranger offered me the use of his family season pass as he couldn’t go. I got very lucky. I’m sure many others who wanted to attend simply couldn’t.

As for the game itself, Ireland missed a penalty, it finished 0-0 and, yes, I do believe my son came home a slightly humbler young man.

I didn’t bother explaining the whole duo ticket fiasco to him, or that the FAI don't seem to care about simple country folk like us. That's another lesson for another day.

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Ladies’ Semi-Final Preview: Armagh stand between Kerry and a third shot at glory

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LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final

Kerry v Armagh

Saturday 7.15pm

O’Connor Park, Tullamore

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies are just 60 minutes away from their third All-Ireland final in a row but they will have to bring their ‘A’ game to overcome the challenge of Armagh at O’Connor Park in Offaly later today.

The Kingdom have been installed as competition favourites after beating Meath (and after champions Dublin lost to Galway) in the quarters and they should be in confident form following that victory over the Royals in Tralee a fortnight ago.

However, they are unlikely to have it all their own way against an Armagh side who have beaten them twice already this season, in the league in March and then in the league final in Croke Park in April.

Losing star player Aimee Mackin to an ACL injury in the Ulster final came as a tremendous blow to the Orchard County. Mackin scored 2-6 (2-5 from play) and 1-4 (1-2) from play in the two games against Kerry this year so her teammates will have to make up the difference in her absence.

Kerry, meanwhile, have been buoyed by the return from an ACL injury of Síofra O’Shea, who scored 0-3 off the bench against Meath. The skilful trio of Danielle O’Leary (1-28, 3f), Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (2-15, 9f) and Emma Dineen (4-5) have accounted for the bulk of the team’s scores this season with Hannah O’Donoghue and team captain Niamh Carmody also capable of finding the target.

Managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long will be hoping that this attacking threat coupled with the teak tough defending of Eilís Lynch, Deirdre Kearney and Aishling O’Connell will be enough to see them over the line. With the dependable Ciara Butler between the sticks, Kerry have kept three clean sheets in their last four games which is a record they would love to improve upon today.

Armagh, who haven’t played in a senior ladies’ football All-Ireland final since 2006, arrive at the semi-final stage on the back of wins over Meath and Mayo. Eve Lavery is their top scorer to date with 0-11 (7f) to her name. Blaithin Mackin, younger sister of Aimee, has chipped in with 1-5.

Kerry v Armagh will be preceded at O’Connor Park by the other All-Ireland semi-final between Galway and Cork. The Rebels last made the final in 2020 while The Tribeswomen are aiming to reach their first decider since 2019. Both counties lost to Dublin in those respective finals.

Galway v Cork starts at 5pm. Both matches will be shown live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh: C Butler; E Lynch, K Cronin, C Murphy; A O’Connell, D Kearney, A Dillane; M O’Connell, A Galvin; N Carmody (captain), D O’Leary, N Ní Chonchúir; H O’Donoghue, E Dineen, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.

Armagh: A Carr; G Ferguson, C McCambridge (captain), R Mulligan; C Towe, L McConville, D Coleman; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; E Druse, A McCoy, B Mackin; E Lavery, N Henderson, K Mallon.

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Jordan Lee vows to bounce back as injury ends 2024 Paralympic dream

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Killarney high jumper Jordan Lee is determined to bounce back stronger than ever after announcing his withdrawal from the Paralympic Selection Process due to injury.

The Killarney Valley AC athlete, who represented Ireland at the Tokyo Games in 2021, was hoping to wear the green singlet again in Paris in August/September but he was forced to pull out “due to an injury that had developed over the past couple of weeks”.

“[To say that I’m] absolutely gutted is an understatement considering the season that we’ve just had and being ranked number 6 in the world rankings on the lead-up,” Lee said via Instagram.

“This is sport at the highest level and unfortunately this is an injury that couldn’t turn right in time for Paris which is only a few weeks away.”

The local lad went on to thank Killarney Valley and his coaches Tomás Griffin, Alan Delaney and Shane O’Rourke for their support, as well as his sponsors PTSB, Puma, Toyota, Kellihers Garage and Output Sports.

“To my family and my friends, I’ve always repped that Irish vest with the utmost pride, not just representing myself and my beautiful country, but my amazing family and friends that I have too. I love ye all.

“Wishing my teammates within Paralympics Ireland all the very best in Paris.

“Roll on 2025 for the Europeans. I’ll be back better and ready for vengeance. Believe that.”

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