It's 2019. The Luas red line and green line have been connected. You can get a decent, pineapple-free pizza in every Irish city and some provincial towns. There's a bar on Capel St in Dublin that doesn't sell alcohol. Plus ca change. But if it's 2019, why does it remain so frustrating to get match tickets for a big GAA match?
You'd think it would be easy. Big events happen all around the world all of the time that involve the selling of tickets. But from the same country that brought you the nine-hour traffic gridlock to All Together Now comes the farce that is the Dublin-Mayo Ticketing Butchering of 2019.
Queueing for the tickets started early today, both at shops and in offices. The Bank Holiday Monday gave punters an extra day to consider whether they'd attend the match and plot a ticket strategy.
The queue in @SuperValuIRL Castlebar for tickets this morning. If anyone knows the layout of that store, that is some amount of people!
Thanks to Bob (St. Patrick's son) for sending this our way.
-SM. #mayogaa #mayogaabanter #gaa #mayoforsam pic.twitter.com/90o4n3vJ46
— Mayo GAA Banter (@mayogaabanter) August 6, 2019
The GAA's ticketing strategy seems straightforward. They sell online exclusively via the website Tickets.ie and in store at your local Supervalu and Centra. To alleviate congestion around big events, Tickets.ie have initiated a queueing system. It makes sense in theory: you register your interest for an event and then wait in the queue for your number to come up. The system was severely tested ahead of the Kerry-Mayo match last month. Today it was found to be unfit for purpose.
The seething started late in the morning, so Tickets.ie issued the following statement at noon today.
Tickets for both semi finals are still on sale - retail and online. There are no issues with the listing however there is a queuing system in place to manage the very high volume of traffic on the website. We do apologize for any inconvenience caused and hope you get your tickets
— tickets.ie (@tickets_ie) August 6, 2019
Then after queueing for most of the day, punters say the Tickets.ie queue freeze after 3pm and not longer after, people were told there were no tickets.
GAA Twitter and many Supervalus and Centras today are a smouldering pit of anger as fans have been online since 10am queueing for tickets.
5 hrs online queuing & Sold out..Some crack I told you pic.twitter.com/hvPTGyQyBq
— David Brady (@D9BMayo) August 6, 2019
Having queued online on @tickets_ie for 5.75hrs & going from 8,127th in the queue to 6,249th, I was kicked off & the page won’t even refresh! 🙄
Reading horror stories from others who queued for hours in @CentraIRL & @SuperValuIRL stores this morning is disappointing too! #Gaa
— DubMatchTracker 📲👕 (@DubMatchTracker) August 6, 2019
Amazing how @officialgaa and https://t.co/IcDvNqvDyg have gone to ground and buried their heads in the sand while so many Dublin and Mayo supporters spend up to five and a half hours in a queue online and in person only to be told no more tickets available at this time.
— Hill 16 Army (@Hill16Army) August 6, 2019
A scroll through Tickets.ie's Twitter mentions today makes for truly demoralising reading. A sample:
@tickets_ie @officialgaa what is the status of ticket sales for Saturday? Queuing since 10.02am and the queue has stopped. In fact, it seems everyone then got a “top of queue” email at 3.13pm. Are there more tickets? Has the queue been reset? Please communicate.
— Ronan O'Beirne (@ronanobeirne) August 6, 2019
— MichaelD (@mdol) August 6, 2019
@tickets_ie Hi I was in the Q for TYRvKER tickets for 3 hours and just when the page was reloading to take me to the site I got a message saying i had already accessed the site. How/Why? I had to take a new place in the q... 2k people in front of me now after waiting for 1k prev.
— Seamus Devenney (@Shay_D_87) August 6, 2019
As Mark Wahlberg belatedly realised on his boat off Nantucket, it was a perfect storm. The most populous county against the most rabidly followed county in what is also the best current gaelic football rivalry. Of course there was going to be high demand. But surely Tickets.ie should be been prepared for this. The GAA bears ultimate responsibility for failing to come up with an alternative online ticketing system given past complaints.
Not suprisingly, tickets have popped up on ebay at a marked up rate (current bid is €1000 for the pair). The Hill16Army account have tweeted in the last hour that Tickets.ie have confirmed there are no more tickets available.
We're sure this will be on tomorrow's Liveline, completing the cipher of a proper GAA farce.