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joys in blue Starting gun for ticket scramble as fans allowed back to the Hill

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Fans are set to return to Croke Park's Hill 16 for the first time since early 2020. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Fans are set to return to Croke Park's Hill 16 for the first time since early 2020. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Fans are set to return to Croke Park's Hill 16 for the first time since early 2020. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The first attendance frenzy of the GAA season is anticipated on Saturday week when Dublin and Mayo fans scramble for one of 24,000 tickets to their All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

And they’ll get ‘two for the price of one’ after it was confirmed that the TG4 ladies’ football semi-final between Mick Bohan’s five-in-a-row chasing Dubs and Mayo will meet in the HQ curtain-raiser.

Croke Park’s latest capacity threshold, set last week after talks with the Government, will include supporters on Hill 16 for the first time since the early months of 2020.

The GAA is not yet in a position to say how many fans will be permitted on the famous terrace, but confirmation is expected later this week.

Various logistics associated with social distancing rules must also be finalised to ensure that Croke Park can safely house the maximum 24,000 allowed for each of the four All-Ireland semi-finals. There will be no fans on the Hill for this weekend’s two hurling semi-finals.

In previous campaigns – prior to last December’s final at a deserted Croker – Dublin and Mayo have routinely reached the venue’s pre-pandemic capacity of 82,300.

In that context, it was no surprise that the ladies’ semi-final between the same counties has been organised as the August 14 curtain-raiser, throwing in at 3.45 with the men’s semi-final fixed for 6.0pm.

By contrast, four county fan bases will be competing for tickets on August 15 after the All-Ireland U-20 FC final (Offaly v Roscommon or Down) was confirmed as the 1.0 curtain-raiser to the SFC semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone (3.30).

However, Kerry remain confident that all of their fans wishing to travel will not be disappointed. They are expecting to receive an allocation of 6,000 stand seats and additional terrace tickets.

“I think 24,000 will still be enough to cope with the demand,” said Kerry chairman Tim Murphy.

Meanwhile, the delayed All-Ireland U-20 HC final between Cork and Galway will now take place on Tuesday, August 17 in Semple Stadium (7.30).

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