Despite rumors to the contrary, tickets still remain for this Sunday’s Connacht Championship opener between the New York all-stars and Philadelphia at Gaelic Park

The arrival of the newly minted National Football League champions in the Bronx and their throngs of supporters from home who will also make the trip over is naturally cause for excitement, but New York GAA Chairman Laurence McGrath told the Irish Voice on Monday evening that walk-ins can still purchase a ticket at the Gaelic Park gates which will open at 8:30 a.m. in anticipation of the first match of the day, a 9 a.m. contest between local New York hurlers and Philadelphia.  The Mayo vs. New York match will start at 2:15 p.m.  Admission is $30.

“It is not sold out. I think that rumor got totally blown up on social media. People can come to the park and get a ticket, but for how long that will last on the day I don’t know. It will be first come, first served,” McGrath said.

McGrath added that he’s been doing some research to try and ascertain how many Mayo fans will be traveling from Ireland for the game.  Return flights on Aer Lingus are still available at reasonable fares, he said, but either way Gaelic Park will be ready for a SRO crowd.

“We have done a lot of work in the park and of course, after the game is when the big renovations will start,” he said.

Read more: Cinco de Mayo! New York All Stars are ready for battle at Gaelic Park

Those renovations, held up by various permitting issues and delays, will include a new full-scale catering facility, dressing rooms for teams, a medical office and offices.  McGrath is expecting work to be complete by March of next year.

“The GAA is as strong as it’s ever been in New York.  Our underage teams and program has gotten so much stronger. We have many development teams too and some of them will be taking to the field on Sunday starting at 9 a.m.,” McGrath said.

“And we have six home-grown players on the all-star panel this year. It’s great to see the local representation.”

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The first Sunday in May at Gaelic Park, kicking off the opening round in the GAA’s Connacht Championship since 2002 when Sligo came to town (the visitors won by a score of 1-19 to 1-11), is one of the most anticipated days on the local Irish American calendar.

“It’s more than a football game. It’s a big community event. It’s important for the Irish businesses in Yonkers and Woodlawn and Manhattan.  And the same goes for the local social life. It’s a great occasion for families and friends to gather,” McGrath said.

The Mayo team will arrive on Thursday afternoon. They’ll be staying in Manhattan, traveling to Gaelic Park on Friday for a practice session, and “will be keeping their heads down,” says McGrath, until Sunday.  On Sunday evening, a celebration with both teams is set for Rory Dolan’s on McLean Avenue in Yonkers.

Will you be going to Gaelic Park? Do you have fond memories of the Bronx home to GAA? Let us know in the comments section below