Offaly fans cheering on their team during the recent Leinster U20 hurling final win over Dublin. Photo: Ger Rogers.

Offaly fans vent fury over ticket chaos for sold-out U20 final

Tickets for the All-Ireland U-20 hurling final quickly sold out when they went on sale on Monday afternoon - and many Offaly supporters who missed out have slammed the ticket process and the choice of venue for the showdown against Tipperary.

Numerous supporters were unable to obtain tickets online via Ticketmaster, the GAA's official ticketing outlet.

Many Offaly fans have expressed anger over the Offaly County Board's decision not to take an allocation of tickets for the game which could then be distributed among clubs, whereas the Tipperary County Board did take up this option.

However, others have pointed out that it would have very difficult to distribute the tickets among clubs in an equitable manner considering the huge demand for tickets in Offaly.

The choice of UPMC Nowlan Park as the venue has also emerged as a major talking point, with supporters pointing out that the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick or Croke Park should have been chosen for the game. Some Offaly fans even contended that Semple Stadium (despite it being Tipperary's home ground) would have been preferable to Nowlan Park due to its larger capacity.

But the venue for the All-Ireland U-20 final had been decided several months ago, with Nowlan Park chosen to host the showpiece in recognition of the 100th anniversary of James Nowlan’s death. Offaly’s eagerly awaited clash with Tipperary is set to take place this Saturday, June 1 at the Kilkenny city venue (throw-in 7.15pm).

Offaly GAA released the following statement about the ticket situation: "Due to the unprecedented demand for tickets for the under-20 All-Ireland match, we wish to inform you that all tickets are sold out. The high demand put immense pressure on the ticketing system, causing issues for supporters. This situation was beyond our control.

"Nowlan Park was selected as the match venue several months ago. This Kilkenny city venue is hosting this year’s All-Ireland under-20 hurling final to commemorate the 100th anniversary of James Nowlan's death. Kilkenny’s home ground and the under-20 cup have both been named in his honour since 2016, making this centenary year particularly significant.

"We hope that additional tickets may become available in the coming days. We will keep supporters updated on any new developments. We sincerely thank all the Faithful for their huge support," the statement added.

Offaly GAA chairman Michael Duignan has said that the county board was advised by Croke Park and Ticketmaster not to take an allocation of tickets for distribution among clubs.

“Tipperary took numbers for their clubs, the advice we got was not to do it. I don't know in hindsight if that was a good or a bad call. Should we have taken an allocation for our clubs?" Duignan is quoted as saying in an Irish Independent article.

"Maybe we should have, I am not sure. It would have caused a lot of hassle for clubs and would only have shifted the problem. Tipperary felt Offaly would have a huge crowd there and were trying to ensure they had a decent crowd.

"The advice we got was that tickets to clubs would be all over the place and it would be better for people to buy online themselves. Offaly wrote to clubs and told them this on Friday. There was no comeback about it,” Duignan continued.

There has also been some concern expressed over the condition of the Nowlan Park pitch, due to the stadium recently hosting a Bruce Springsteen concert, and Wexford senior hurling manager Keith Rossiter highlighted this issue following his side's narrow defeat to Kilkenny last Sunday.