DIEHARD Limerick GAA supporters wishing to support the county’s hurlers and footballers this Saturday will have to face a 12-hour round trip, totalling almost 280 miles and costing a conservative estimate of 140 euro.
The GAA have fixed the All Ireland football Qualifier between Limerick and Offaly for the Gaelic Grounds at 2pm while Donal O’Grady’s hurlers will take on Antrim in Parnell Park on the northside of Dublin at 7pm.
“Unfortunately these things are outside our control,” said Limerick GAA secretary Mike O’Riordan on Monday, “but I think the early throw-in for the footballers is to facilitate people who want to travel to both.”
The two Donal O’Gradys (player and manager) paid tribute to the Limerick supporters after last Saturday night’s impressive win over Wexford but this weekend they will find it much more difficult to show their support.
The timing of the games means that a supporter wishing to go to both games would face a hectic rush from the Gaelic Grounds when the football match finishes at about 3.30pm before making their way through the new Limerick tunnel and onto the M7.
From there it would be all motorway until the Red Cow Roundabout before heading northbound on the M50 and then taking Junction 1 onto the N1, turning left onto Collins Avenue and finally arriving at the Dublin GAA venue in Donnycarney.
The AA Roadwatch website calculates the journey at 136 miles and estimates it would take two hours and 25 minutes.
But that doesn’t take into account the inevitable traffic that will be caused by the Cork V Galway game at 4pm in the Gaelic Grounds or by delays at the toll bridge on the tunnel or on the one just outside Portlaoise.
If a supporter was in their car and ready to leave at 4pm, they would have a chance of making the 7pm throw-in in Parnell Park but it would be a hectic rush and one that wouldn’t allow time to stop to get something to eat.
And then there’s the cost issue. If the supporter paid g20 for a stand seat in both grounds, bought a programme costing g3 for both games, paid g40 for diesel, almost g13 in tolls and then allowed themselves g40 for additional costs like parking, food and drink and our conservative estimate for the cost of the day for one fan would be in the region of g140. For a family, the total figure would be a multiple of that.
It would also entail a long day, beginning at 1pm and ending possibly 12 hours later if Limerick city was the starting point - again it could be worse for a fan based further out in the county.
The double fixture is the second contentious issue to arrise in less than a week as supporters in the Gaelic Grounds last Saturday were furious with the lack of turnstiles open, something which resulted in the game being delayed by ten minutes.
The Munster Council, and not Limerick GAA, ran that fixture and secretary Pat Fitzgerald said that they under-estimated the crowd.
“We had expected between six and nine thousand based on the attendance at the Limerick v Waterford game (14,000).
“The attendance was 13,800 and we definitely got that wrong but our stewards did a brilliant job to get so many latecomers in within an extremely short time.”