Hundreds of ex-pats living in New York are making the trip home to Ireland this week for the biggest sporting event of the year, but many may not make it inside Croke Park.
Tickets are scarce for this Sunday’s All-Ireland football final between Donegal and Mayo, but Irish immigrants living in New York remain optimistic in their quest for a golden ticket.
“I don’t have a ticket yet, but I am hopeful,” John Crowe, a Mayo supporter who lives in Manhattan told the Irish Voice.
Crowe, who has been living in New York for almost a year, booked his flights home to Ireland on a whim after Mayo defeated Dublin in the semifinal.
“I have been to five All-Irelands already,” Crowe, a student at Fordham University, said.
Hoping to witness Mayo’s first All-Ireland football victory in his lifetime, Crowe said, “I would be really disappointed if they won and I wasn’t there.”
Most GAA clubs around Ireland lost players due to the recent wave of emigration, but it’s expected many will make the trip home for Sunday’s game.
“I have friends in London going and a few boys in Scotland who are coming back for it,” said Crowe.
Explaining the significance of the weekend fixture to his American friends, the Mayo man compares the All-Ireland final to the Super Bowl.
“It’s the biggest day of the year in Irish sports,” Crowe told the Irish Voice.
Confident in his home county, Crowe thinks the trip home will be worth it. “I would not fly home the 3,200 miles, if I didn’t think they could do it,” he said.
Up in the Bronx, Donegal supporters are also gearing up for Sunday’s game.
Ballyshannon native Simon Gillespie, who is the New York GAA games development officer, says the demand for tickets is very high.
“There are loads of Donegal people going home,” he said, explaining up to 100 people from the Woodlawn/Yonkers area alone are heading home for the match.
Unlike the countless number of loyal supporters, Gillespie confirms, tickets are hard to come by.
“They have never had demand like this before,” he said.
“A lot of them are going home in the hopes they will get the tickets.”
An average adult ticket for Sunday’s final costs €80 ($104). The fourth largest stadium in Europe, Croke Park will be packed to capacity with 82,300 GAA fans this Sunday.
“Club allocations are very limited back home. They have to pick and choose who they give tickets to,” Gillespie explained.
“Black market tickets are selling for up to €600. It’s impossible for families to get two or three tickets.”
Advice for those scrambling to get tickets, Gillespie says try outside your home county. “I would not encourage people to buy tickets from the black market,” Gillespie added.
In Woodside, Queens, Mayo woman Corina Galvin is grateful to have a ticket secured.
“I cannot wait,” Galvin, who’s flying home to Dublin on Friday, told the Irish Voice.
Originally from a village outside Castlebar, she managed to get a ticket from a Cork friend.
“My brothers at home still have not sorted one,” she said.
The Mayo woman, who immigrated 17 years ago after graduating from college, felt she had to make the trip home for this All Ireland.
“I have always been a big fan,” she told the Irish Voice. “I booked my flights in the taxi on the way home from the semifinal.”