An unprecedented wave of interest has catapulted Sunday’s All Ireland senior semi final between Dublin and Donegal, into the must see game of the GAA season so far.
When all favours are called in, it’s expected that at least 30,000 Donegal supporters will be at the sell-out game, many of them from the capital itself with many others who have sourced tickets from outside the county.
While a figure of 13,500 tickets going to the Donegal County Board, a Croke Park source indicated that the figure was probably closer to 15,000. Another 20,000 have been made available online and at SuperValu and Centra, one of the main sponsors of the football championship.
Dublin, desperately seeking their first All Ireland Final appearance in 16 years are up against Jim McGuinness and his mighty battalion of warriors who have gone from sleeping giants against Antrim, to the dizzying heights of delight in the last moments of the Kildare All Ireland quarter final.
But more awaits this Donegal team, who it is hoped, can break the cycle of senior semi final hurdles that have dogged the green and gold over four decades, with the single exception of 1992.
Such has been the demand for tickets for the game, that all 82,000 plus tickets were snapped up as quickly as they were being printed.
While the boys from Hill 16 always have high expectations, this year they seem to believe that they will go on and meet Kerry in the final.
CEO of the Gaelic Players Association, Dessie Farrell, who is a former Dublin All Ireland winner from 1995 and has a Donegal Mum, said that Sunday’s game will be intriguing.
He told the Democrat: “Progress has been made in terms of Dublin’s development this year. They did well against Tyrone in the quarter-final but they are now coming up against a Donegal team that is highly rated and which have developed into a fine squad. I think that it will be an intriguing contest this weekend.”
He added: “The level of thinking that goes into the strategic element of the game now is almost like a game of chess. You have to be thinking a couple of moves ahead. I know that both managers are well versed in this and for young managers they are experienced and old campaigners.”
Supporters are again being advised to travel up in plenty of time for the game and to make sure that their vehicles are securely parked and valuables. Stiles open at 12 noon.
Gardai have advised all patrons travelling to Croke Park Stadium to utilise public transport and the park and ride facilities. They have advised those travelling to Croke Park to go via the M50 motorway to Navan Road, Finglas Road, and Drumcondra Road. Supporters arriving via the M50 /M1 motorways are advised to allow time for traffic delays and after the game due to a new crowd management plan on Jones Road in the vicinity of the Croke Park Hotel, patrons leaving the Cusack Stand, Davin Stand and Hill 16 Terrace areas of the stadium are requested to utilise routes other than Jones Road.