Kerry defender Killian Young has defended the decision to host Saturday’s blockbuster Allianz football league tie with Dublin at Austin Stack Park in Tralee and not Killarney.
A crowd of around 12,000 is expected though with the ‘sold out’ signs going up in mid- February interest in the repeat of last year’s league decider between two great rivals is clearly huge.
Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney could have comfortably accommodated a much larger crowd though Kingdom officials opted to split their four home games this season evenly between the two grounds.
Experienced Young said he could see why some supporters who will be unable to attend Saturday’s glamour game will be disappointed with the venue choice.
“That’s a good point,” acknowledged Young. “From a revenue point of view you could say that. But I think as a whole the agreement was there in Kerry to have two games in Killarney and two games in Tralee. Economically they’re kind of looking to take care of both.
“For Tralee, it’s a massive boost for the town. It’s a nice compact stadium as well and it brings out more atmosphere. It’s something different to look at and there’s a different type of feel to a Saturday night game so I don’t see anything wrong with that at all.”
Kerry PRO John O’Leary confirmed yesterday an initial 10,500 allocation - including 5,500 season ticket holders - sold out last month before a further 1,500 tickets were released which were snapped up straight away.
He said the decision to play the game in Tralee was taken for various reasons, partly because of the heavy investment in the ground in recent years and partly because just 7,100 turned up for the corresponding fixture in Killarney in 2015 when Kerry were All- Ireland champions.
Privately, Kerry may also be keen to test Dublin’s mettle in a hostile atmosphere under lights on a Saturday evening, particularly in light of Dublin winning two of their last three league visits to Killarney.
Young said the build-up to the crunch clash, which will see back to back All-Ireland champions Dublin attempt to match the 34-game unbeaten run set by Kerry in the early 1930s, has been particularly exciting.
“There’s a lot of excitement,” said the Renard man. “I’d say within the last three weeks people have been talking about it because of the frenzy with tickets and the attendance. Tickets are sold out so that has brought a bit of excitement to the game, whereas you’d normally have a build up in the league of about two or three days, if anything at all. It is out of the ordinary but it shows the standard of the league and the excitement the game has built up. We are looking forward to it as a group of players. We’re just focused on ourselves and it’s important to stay focused.”
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