GAA to switch All-Ireland finals to accommodate golf fans

JUST days after their groundbreaking decision to co-operate with rugby and soccer, the GAA announced yesterday that they have agreed to change the dates of the 2006 All-Ireland finals at the request of European golfing authorities.

It has been done to avoid a clash with the Ryder Cup, which is being hosted in Ireland for the first time at the K Club in Kildare from September 22-24. This results in the All-Ireland finals being switched to the first and third Sundays of September.

GAA President Sean Kelly said they had been in a position to move the finals - from the more customary second and fourth Sundays in recent years - because they had time to plan ahead. And he stressed that they were delighted to help.

The initial approach had been made by letter from European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills.

“We sat down and looked at it. The attitude was there was no point having it clash with the All-Ireland football final because of traffic congestion and the difficulty with hotel accommodation etc,” he explained.

“The fact that we had plenty of notice gave us time to make a decision and make people aware of it. It was important to let them know in advance because a lot of people plan their holidays around the dates of the All-Ireland finals.’’

Mr Kelly said the only difficulty they encountered was in planning for the two-test International Rules series, with Australia visiting Ireland next year.

“But there was no great problem really. We were delighted to help out and the golfing authorities were very appreciative.’’

Meanwhile, the Croke Park stadium management committee moved quickly yesterday to alleviate fears about the newly-laid surface ahead of Sunday’s Allianz National Football League semi-final between Mayo and Armagh.

Some players who were on the Croke Park pitch on Wednesday for a photo-shoot expressed concern about an apparent lack of grass growth.

In a statement, the committee confirmed they were “satisfied” with the surface and said it will be ready to host the game and the meeting of Dublin and Kildare in the Cadbury’s Leinster Under-21 football final replay.

Tickets for the games are on sale from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. They will be available from the Ticket Office in Croke Park from 11am- 7pm today and tomorrow from 11am-5pm, as well as from McCaughey’s shop on Clonliffe Rd and O’Neill’s Newsagents in Drumcondra.

Adult stand tickets will cost €20 and Hill 16 tickets €15.

Students and OAPs with appropriate identification will be admitted for €5 and Juvenile (U-16) tickets will cost €2.

Tickets will also be available on the day from 11am at ticket outlets in Ballybough (under the railway bridge), at Gill’s Corner at the junction of the North Circular Rd/Fitzgibbon St, from the Matt Talbot Credit Union on Fitzgibbon St and from the Bishop’s Palace on Drumcondra Rd.

Ticketmaster collections will be from the sales collection window of the Ticketmaster van on the North Circular Rd/Fitzgibbon St Junction.

The GAA have advised patrons attending the games to purchase their tickets in advance where feasible and to allow plenty of time for entry to the ground. The league semi-final will get under way at 3.30pm and the Under-21 replay is timed for 1.45pm.

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