Northern Ireland news

McKenna Cup final £2 kids' entry fee for 'health and safety' says Ulster GAA

Tyrone's Peter Harte at the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup final on Saturday. Picture by Philip Walsh
Brendan Hughes

ULSTER GAA has said a decision to charge children £2 to watch the McKenna Cup final was primarily for "health and safety" reasons.

Issuing tickets to every spectator is the only way to account for every person in the ground, the sports body said.

Some GAA fans had criticised the fees for youngsters following Saturday's Dr McKenna Cup decider in which Tyrone beat Armagh 0-16 to 0-14.

The match at Athletic Grounds in Armagh was watched by more than 11,000 spectators.

Tyrone GAA star Colm Cavanagh tweeted on Saturday: "Find it hard to reason why children under 16 were charged £2 in to watch tonight's game."

Read More: Cahair O'Kane: At what point do ticket price increases become mismanagement?

In response, one Twitter user branded it a "disgrace" while another replied: "GAA – Grab All Association."

Asked about the charges, Ulster GAA said its management "some time ago took a decision to impose a charge of £2/€2 for children to finals of games".

"The reason for this is primarily on health and safety grounds – issuing tickets for everyone entering our stadiums is the only way our event controllers can control entry through turnstiles and account for every person in the ground," a spokesman said.

"Last Saturday night was testament to this in that we knew before the BOI [Bank of Ireland] McKenna final started that the main stand would be full and it was duly closed off and supporters redirected to other parts of the stadium long before the second game commenced."

Ulster GAA added that it has a 'buy early and save' campaign for championships so that fans pre-purchasing tickets make a saving over tickets bought on match day.

"Ulster GAA always put the safety of our players and supporters first and foremost in the staging of our games," the spokesman said.

It comes as the GAA faces criticism for price increases for the upcoming league and championship, including All-Ireland final tickets increasing by €10 to €90 for stand seats.

Amid a drop in match attendances, Ulster GAA's gate receipts income fell almost 18 per cent in the past year from £1.88m in 2017 to £1.55m in 2018.

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