Derry legend McKeever slams "capitalist" GAA over All-Ireland ticket allocations
FORMER Allstar Kieran McKeever has hit out at the GAA over the county’s ticket allocation for Sunday’s All-Ireland final, claiming that the association “believes more in capitalism than the ideals that it was founded on”.
The former Derry defender, who was corner-back on the Oak Leaf team when they won their solitary senior All-Ireland title 24 years ago, has written to GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail seeking an explanation over the distribution of tickets.
McKeever captained his county to their last Ulster title in 1998 and his nephew Sean will follow in his footsteps when he lines out for Derry minors against Kerry in Sunday’s curtain-raiser.
Now club chairman in Dungiven, McKeever has found St Canice’s in the same situation as most other clubs in the county, with a shortage of tickets to distribute among more than 500 members.
Derry was given a total allocation of 2,045 tickets to distribute among clubs, sponsors and county board officials. The minor players are given two tickets each out of that allocation, and it’s understood the county board offered them the option of buying two extra tickets.
St Canice’s were given 40 tickets, while the Kevin Lynch hurling club in the town received 15, but McKeever says the volume of tickets was nowhere near satisfying demand.
“You’re never going to get enough but we have over 500 members, and probably another 1,000 people that support us. How does 55 tickets support a community that includes hurling, ladies’ football and camogie?
“We’re the grassroots and the GAA doesn’t exist without us. For Derry to get 2,045 tickets out of 82,300, it doesn’t make sense.
“I wanted a reply to the letter or an explanation as to how that figure came about, so I can explain to my members why, and if, the GAA has moved towards capitalism and forgotten about the ideals of what the association is about.
“It’s just over 2 per cent of the overall allocation for the day. If we’re getting 2,000 tickets and Kerry are getting 2,000 tickets, that still leaves over 79,000 tickets.”
For the 2015 final, the four competing counties were allocated 59,516 tickets. It is not known how many tickets the four counties competing this weekend have been allocated altogether.
There has been growing controversy over a fundraising breakfast organised by Dublin county board at which businesses paying €2,500 are given the guaranteed option of buying a pack of 10 tickets for Sunday’s final.
“Dublin seem confident enough that they’ll get enough tickets that they can fundraise and sell these tickets, and get extraordinary amounts of money for it. Derry county board don’t have that luxury because they don’t have enough tickets,” said McKeever.
“The issue’s not with the county board. It’s with the GAA ignoring the grassroots. We, as a club or a county, don’t often get a chance to go to Croke Park.
”We have two players playing in the All-Ireland minor final, the proudest day in their lives, their families’ lives, the proudest day for our club and our community, and we can only get 55 tickets to celebrate that.
“The GAA was founded for the communities, but our community is losing out on the biggest day for our two young players.
“I just want answers why our community can’t go and cheer on two players in what we call the Theatre of Dreams, on the biggest day of their lives and the biggest day for our GAA community.
“We know we won’t get enough tickets to cover but you’d think 5,000 would be reasonable for an amateur organisation with a stadium that holds 82,300.”
2015 All-Ireland final ticket allocations
County allocations: 59,516
Central Council and former Presidents: 792
Ladies Football: 100
Rounders and Handball: 212
TV and Radio: 74
Schools and Educational Bodies: 2229
Third Level: 240
Croke Park Residents: 200
Match Officials and National Referees Panel: 148
Health Bodies and Irish Sports Council: 60
Match Day/Vertigo/Minor teams: 148
Staff and Sub Committees: 708
Jubilee Teams: 70
Mini Games: 230
Term Tickets: 2703
Season Tickets: 1833
Number available for distribution: 71,478
Premium and Corporate: 10,528