ALL-IRELAND SHC QUARTER-FINAL:
Limerick v Wexford
Wexford hurling supporters have initiated a remarkable ticket swap scheme to ensure those most in need of stand tickets for Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final are accommodated.
Hundreds of younger supporters are expected to give up their stand tickets for the Semple Stadium showdown with Limerick and make do with terrace tickets instead.
Wexford chairman Diarmuid Devereux explained that a novel appeal to young and able-bodied supporters to help elderly fans or those with young families became necessary because of the county’s paltry ticket allocation.
They were given a little more than 2,000 stand tickets — about 25 per club — for the county’s biggest game in years. All that remains on general sale this week is terrace tickets.
Devereux said it’s not an ideal arrangement and he previously called, in vain, for the game to be moved to Croke Park to accommodate supporters of all four teams playing in Thurles.
But he praised the solidarity of genuine Wexford supporters who rallied around to make sure that those most in need of seated tickets get them.
“We’ve put a swap plan in place in the county and appealed to young and able bodied people, or single people who are capable of standing for the game, to swap with families or elderly people who only have terrace tickets,” said Devereux (pictured).
“I’m happy to say that it’s going really well. We’re openly promoting it on local radio and it’s got a great response. I imagine there’s hundreds that are going to benefit from this and hopefully that figure will grow as word gets around.
“It just shows the solidarity that’s there among GAA supporters, it’s a credit to them. I’ll give you an example from my own club; we had two young couples that were going to go and sit and they handed the tickets back to the club chairmen and he gave them out to a family with two young boys. It’s not something you want people to have to do but fair play to them. We’ve no option in the circumstances. We’ll get the maximum number of people possible there that we can.”
Wexford could have sold at least double their allocation of seated tickets for the tie, which is expected to come close to a 46,500 capacity sellout.
“There’s absolutely no question about it, families and people who would have been at Wexford’s games up to this, people who are active in the clubs, aren’t going to be there because they didn’t get access to club tickets,” said Devereux. “There’s no question about that and, going forward, it’s something that needs a serious look at. But at least we’re doing all we can.”
The ticket rush has been made possible by Wexford’s thrilling form since losing to Dublin in the Leinster semi-finals.
They bounced back with famous wins over All- Ireland champions Clare and Waterford to reach the last six, the stage they would have been guaranteed to play at if they’d beaten Dublin and reached the provincial final.
“These guys have a second opportunity,” said manager Liam Dunne. “If we had beaten Dublin in the semi-final of the Leinster championship at Wexford Park, we’d have been in an All-Ireland quarter- final, yeah. But to hell with it. Look at what we’re after getting out of it through the qualifiers. Playing great All-Ireland champions in Clare, and they will come again, our guys had to perform to their best to beat them. We were tested in so many ways to get the victory against them and then you come along against Waterford.
“So I just think the qualifiers have been the making of this team. And if we have to play four, five, six weeks in a row, I think that’s fantastic for the development of this team.”
Speaking to Wexford GAA TV, Dunne revealed how he called in hurling experts Liam Griffin, Paudie Butler and Damien Fitzhenry, as well as rugby icon Sean O’Brien, at various times this season to help out and provide motivation.
He also admitted he asked Intel Ireland chief Eamonn Sinnott to speak to the players regarding leadership.
“He’d have thousands of people employed under him,” said Dunne. “Six promotions have got him to where he is. A guy that’s lived in Wexford town all his life and did a presentation for the players. It’s all about developing these guys.”
Dunne said that, if possible, he would even call for help from Rome ahead of their make or break encounter with Limerick.
“Anyone that can help, if the Pope could help Liam Dunne to bring this team any further then I would get him in if he was available,” declared Dunne.