Donegal fever has once again gripped the county as the clock ticks down to Sunday’s All-Ireland senior quarter final encounter between Donegal and Kerry at Croke Park. This will be the first time that the counties will meet in the senior football championship in the history of the Association.
Regarded by many seasoned football pundits as the “Match of the Championship”, Sunday’s clash at GAA’s headquarters has generated an unprecedented demand for all things ‘Donegal’ with most business interests simply stating “We just can’t get enough!”
Since Saturday’s draw paired Donegal with the Kingdom, there has been talk of little else, with the tie creating an insatiable demand for tickets, jerseys, jewellery, football mugs and of course accommodation in the capital.
Brian McCormick of Brian McCormick Sports in Letterkenny told the Donegal Democrat, “The buzz and the feel-good factor is just unbelievable at the moment - we simply just cannot get enough of the jerseys and are literally getting deliveries on a daily basis.
“The pink jersey has been the big hit but after the Kerry draw and with Donegal now in their white jersey, we are now experiencing a further demand on the away jersey.
“The traditional home jersey is still the number one seller, but many people are buying quite a few items including hoodies and rain jackets - everybody just wants to be associated with the lads.
“We will be remaining open the whole way through and even on Sunday - We couldn’t believe the number of tops we sold on the Sunday of the Ulster Final - people going to the pubs and then when victory was assured fans on their way home.”
Gareth Britton of All Sports in Donegal Town had a similar story.
“We are finding it hard to keep up with the demand - every morning we are just waiting anxiously for the daily delivery.
“Our own jersey which was designed exclusively for All Sports has been our number one seller but it’s now come to the stage that anything with Donegal is just flying out the door,” he said.
“Our online sales have also been phenomenal and indeed surprising - we have orders from all four corners of the globe but also from other counties including Dublin, Cork, Galway. Tipperary and even quite a few to the Kingdom itself! It has been a tremendous boost to business just when we all needed it,” he added.
Flags, jewellery, key rings and all varieties of trinkets are available for the big match.
Responding to the demand, Cara Pharmacies have even introduced their own personalised mugs into all their Donegal branches with images of the team commemorating the occasion.
SuperValu, who have emerged as one of the top outlets for match tickets, have also reported an unprecedented demand for tickets.
Paul Gallagher of SuperValu said, “Since last Monday we have had a constant stream through our doors buying tickets- we really have never seen anything like it. I suppose the fans find it just so easy to come up and give some indication of where they would like to be seated. We do our best to look after them, although it’s getting near the stage where many will just have to take what is available.
“We will be open until 9pm on Saturday night and for fans who take a last minute notion, we will be opening specially on Sunday morning, if we are not sold out!”
After the disappointment of losing to Dublin the All-Ireland semi-final last year, Donegal fans are all set to make this a memorable weekend in the capital with the traditional Donegal hostelries declaring “House Full”
Sean McEniff, who owns three large hotels in Dublin, said, “At this stage I can confirm that all our hotels are full to the brim and I know that my brother Brian’s Skylon Hotel is the same. The receptionists are struggling to cope with the level of enquiries.”
“To the best of my knowledge all the hotels with Donegal connections - the Harcourt, the Regency, they haven’t a room at any price.
“There is no doubt that the pink army along with their green and gold counterparts are on the march, and hopefully we’ll all be on the road for a while longer.”