By Declan Rooney
President of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Marie Hickey, says she is hopeful that this Sunday’s All-Ireland finals will represent as big an occasion as last year’s record-breaking deciders.
Mick Bohan’s champions Dublin are back in the Croke Park Senior Final this year, where they face 11-time winners Cork (4pm).
Before that, 2017 runners-up Tyrone will hope for a return to the senior ranks with victory over Meath in the intermediate final (1.45pm), while Louth and Limerick square off in the junior final (11.45am).
46,286 people were there to see Dublin claim just their second All-Ireland Senior title in victory over Mayo this time last year, and while Ms. Hickey was not ready to project another record, she says it will be another day to remember for attendees.
“It would be just wonderful if we can even get close to that (attendance) again this year,” she said.
“Certainly we are hoping. Ticket sales are good but it is very hard to pinpoint where you are with them, or where you are going to be for Sunday,” said Ms. Hickey.
“Most counties are responding very well and we have a lot of clubs coming from counties that aren't even participating and coming in large numbers. That's great to see.
“There are still some clubs in some participating counties that haven't responded yet and it would be great to see an improvement in that.
“Cork have been very busy with the camogie last weekend so I'm sure they will be all getting on the ticket sales this week and we will hopefully see a good response there as well.”
This summer saw the Intermediate and Senior Championships played off under a new round-robin system, following the respective provincial championships.
While the four Senior provincial winners ended up competing in the semi-finals, Ms. Hickey says year one of the three-year project has been a success.
“Everyone was happy with the structures this year. They knew when the games were on, they could plan ahead and they weren’t waiting on the outcome of another game to see when their game would be on. So that was very clear for everyone from the beginning and that's what the players had said to us.
“Locations is difficult for us, particularly this year with the GAA fixtures and the way they had changed and us trying to get venues and fixtures. You're always looking for the best grounds that you can get and if it is not available to you then you have to look for it somewhere else.
“That's always a constant battle for us. It has improved significantly for us prior to last year. "Maybe it will level out a bit again.”