Only A Game? - I dreamt I got a ticket and hey presto

Launch of the 2012 Allianz Football Leagues, Croke Park, Dublin 30/1/2012'Donegal manager Jim McGuinness'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Donall Farmer
Launch of the 2012 Allianz Football Leagues, Croke Park, Dublin 30/1/2012'Donegal manager Jim McGuinness'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Donall Farmer

I’m in danger of sounding like Martin Luther King Jnr. but on Thursday night, I had a dream. Before I go any further, if you’re pedantic I know Luther King said ‘have’ and not ‘had’ - I am using the past tense, get over it.

Anyway, back to the dream.

If you’re anything like me, my dreams are usually the stuff of science fiction movies. I am usually fending off zombies with a pump action shotgun, slicing and dicing vampires or battling an alien invasion so you can imagine my shock when Thursday night’s dream was not only realistic but actually came to pass on Friday.

Derry had a disappointing Championship this year so after they were dumped out by Longford I decided that I’d accompany my friend, who’s from Inishowen, to as many of Donegal’s games as possible.

We made it to Clones for the Ulster final against Down and resided in the nose- bleed-inducing seats in the Cusack Stand upper for Donegal’s semi-final victory over Cork a few weeks ago.

After Jim McGuinness’ men saw off Cork I remember walking back to the car along the lower Drumcondra Road. I recall thinking that despite the fact that I had been to most of Donegal’s games, I hadn’t a chance of getting a ticket for the final. I was wrong.

On Thursday night I dreamt that my friend from Inishowen texted me to say that he’d got me a ticket to today’s final and it was only going to cost me 39 euro.

I woke up on Friday morning feeling a little sad that my dream wasn’t real and with 48 hours to go, I was still ticketless.

Later on, on Friday I got a text and guess what, my friend from Inishowen had managed to get his hands on a ticket. The only difference between what actually happened and my dream was the price of the ticket - it costs twice as much.

But I am not complaining about the price of the ticket. No way! It’s an All-Ireland final for God’s sake. I’ve been to Croke Park a few times but I’ve never been to an All-Ireland final.

If there’s a Derry man exists with no relatives from Donegal then I’d like to meet him so obviously I’d be delighted to see the Tir Chonaill men lift the Sam Maguire trophy for the first time since 1992.

However, like all sport, today’s final has to be entertaining and I’d much rather see a fiercely-contested game with Mayo winning than a game that Donegal have in the bag at half-time.

All-Ireland finals are no different to other sporting showpieces. When a team is close to glory, everyone wants to get in on the experience, hence the countless number of cars driving around Derry this week with Donegal flags.

I can understand Donegal fans who have followed their county in the McKenna Cup, the National Football League and the Championship feel let down when they don’t get a ticket and someone who hasn’t attended one game all year has, but I think it’s just part and parcel of a team’s success.

Surely the most important thing is that everyone gets behind their county, whether it be Donegal or Mayo, and cheer them on until the final whistle.

It’s a waste of time and energy to get annoyed at ‘fair weather’ supporters. They are always going to exist and there’s very little anyone can do about it so the best thing to do is enjoy the day.

It’s impossible to decide who is more deserving of tickets as someone who hasn’t been at a game all year might not have been able to because of illness, children or because of countless other reasons.

Surely there are more serious issues surrounding All-Ireland finals than ‘fair weather’ supporters?

One being,the price of tickets. I am one of the lucky ones in the sense that I am paying face value for mine but I have seen tickets on eBay where the seller is asking for in excess of 2000 euro. This is disgusting.

We live in a much more modern age where transport is more accessible. More people in Ireland have their own cars than ever so it’s only logical to expect that more people from the counties contesting the final will want to attend.

The GAA really need to look at how tickets are allocated and they could certainly take a leaf out of the FAI’s book when it comes giving first refusal to those fans who have attended all of the games in the run- up to the final.

Unfortunately my dream didn’t reveal to me who will win today’s showpiece but one thing’s for sure, countless car boots will be used as makeshift picnic areas in Drumcondra, old men will re-live their younger years as they watch their fellow county men fight it out on the grass in Croke Park and young children will remember the day that their county won (providing it doesn’t end in a draw) the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

Hopefully it’s not too long a journey back home up the M1...