Sunday 19 January 2020

The distribution of tickets leaves very sour taste in clubs

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

There appears to be growing friction between Wexford G.A.A. officers and the clubs over the way tickets were distributed for the county's Leinster Senior hurling championship semi-final at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.

The clubs' understanding was that tickets would be distributed through them, as was the case in the past for big games including All-Ireland finals.

However, alarm bells began to ring when it was learned that clubs would not in fact be receiving any tickets for the game. Instead their members were expected to queue along with thousands of supporters not attached to clubs to buy tickets for what is the big game of the championship weekend.

When the matter was raised at the recent County Board meeting, clubs were informed they would not be receiving tickets, and instead they would be going on public sale.

Wexford's entire allocation, except the numbers held back for sponsors and the like, went on public sale.

This led to utter confusion and controversy, with the good name of Wexford G.A.A. being sullied right around the county. Instead of the clubs taking a stance, they accepted this decision from the top table, leaving them without tickets for officers, players, their own sponsors and supporters.

The decision of Wexford G.A.A. to distribute from just one outlet - Innovate Wexford Park on Wednesday morning - left 75 per cent of the county without an opportunity of securing match day tickets.

What about the clubs and supporters from north Wexford, Enniscorthy and New Ross? They would have needed to queue from as early as 6 a.m. to secure a seated ticket, and even at that the stand tickets were limited, leaving an option of the open seated terrace (also limited), or the terraces behind the goals.

The demand was such for tickets that on Wednesday morning queuing began as early as 4 a.m., but many of the regular attendees at Wexford games, both club and inter-county, simply couldn't make it to Innovate Wexford Park and lost out as a result.

The tickets crisis and the decision to snub the clubs has come back to haunt the top table. While genuine G.A.A. people are unable to get hold of tickets, one was particularly alarmed to see some people join the queue who have contributed so much to the association in the county.

With the hype reaching unchartered territory, it was sad to see people forced to join the queue such as former Chairman Simon Kennedy, 1996 All-Ireland winning captain Martin Storey, former county football player and manager Liam Fardy, and former Mayor of Wexford and ex-County Board officer Ger Carthy.

Even current New Ross District Secretary John Hanton was seen in the queue. These are just a few sample names with many, many more joining the queue, some of whom left empty-handed when it became apparent that the stand tickets were all sold.

This may be a Leinster Council fixture but their sole privilege for the evening is that they rent the ground for the holding of the game for which they are responsible.

This has now been taken a step further as Wexford G.A.A. car passes for parking in the ground will not be accepted, with only Leinster Council car passes being honoured on the evening.

 But all that aside, Wexford are still responsible for deciding how they distribute their own ticket allocation. The county management committee members have failed the G.A.A. and the clubs in the county.

They have embarrassed the association, and let's not forget that the queuing led to much unrest with residents of the area, with gardaí having been called for duty from early morning.

This could all have been avoided had the tickets been distributed through the clubs where the real supporters and players would have been catered for. But it was a total shut-down for the clubs.

Now serious questions must be asked as to who is responsible for such a catastrophic decision. The clubs should have received a similar allocation as in the past, with the available tickets that remained then put on public sale.

A full inquiry is called for to determine who was responsible for this decision.

It will be interesting to see if heads will roll come county Convention, or even before.

Wexford People

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