On Sunday last the GAA confirmed that Semple Stadium would play host to next Saturday’s All Ireland Hurling Semi Final Replay. However, I question this decision? Is it the right venue, I personally don’t think so.
Due to Conor Fogarty’s expertly taken point from play to force a replay, the attention quickly to where the game should be played. The question was that should the game be played on Saturday or Saturday in Croke Park or Thurles? It had been rumoured the GAA were considering putting the replay on as part of a triple header at Croke Park on Sunday, when Galway play Tipperary in the minor hurling and senior hurling semi-finals. However, this wasn’t be the case. However, this wouldn’t of worked as there will be a crowd of at least 55-60,000 in Croke for the Tipperary/Galway clashes alone. Therefore, it wouldn’t be feasible for the GAA to put the Waterford/Kilkenny replay in Croke Park as the demand for tickets will be quite high.
Instead, the GAA have turned to Thurles for the replay, which I firmly believe is the correct decision. The game will be played at 6.45pm as part of a triple header which will see the All-Ireland Camogie semi-finals also on show. Last Sunday’s attendance at Croke Park was very poor to say the least, with just over 34,000 people in attendance at headquarters, which means Croke Park was not even half full, which is very poor from an All-Ireland semi-final.
In saying that, the small crowd could have been down to the 40 euro fans were expected to fork out to see their counties in action and if you throw in the cost of travel to the games it’s a lot of money to be expecting fans to pay. However, the GAA have made a good move by reducing the tickets for the replay by 10 euro, so fans will be only expected to pay 30 euro. In addition to this, Thurles is a lot closer for both sets of fans so travel costs will be reduced. A stadium with a reduced capacity will certainly add to what will be a fantastic atmosphere, it will be a cauldron on Saturday as both sides look to claim an All-Ireland final spot.
I fully expect the game to be a sell-out and with this in mind the GAA should be commended for making the correct call in terms of scheduling the game for Thurles on Saturday evening. Roll on Saturday evening, for what will be another amazing encounter between two great hurling counties.