When Down embarked on their National Football League campaign in February, no one in the Mourne camp could have envisaged that eight months down the line the team would be in the All Ireland Final.
But now the faithful followers who travelled to venues to such as Newbridge, Ballybofey, Mullingar and Croke Park in what were the worst winter weather conditions for thirty years could be in line for a significant reward.
Down officials have now promised that those fans, whose names are already electronically recorded following their purchase of tickets for the league games, will be given “strong consideration” for All Ireland final tickets.
Down chairman Seamus Walsh has already described the clamour for tickets for the showdown with Cork later this month as a “totally mad scramble” — and yet the tickets are not even to hand yet.
“Everyone wants to get in on the act but I suppose this is understandable particularly given that Down came from virtually nowhere to reach the All Ireland final,” says Walsh. “But I think we have to be fair to those supporters who stood by the team in bitingly cold days last winter when travel was hazardous and watching matches was as much an endurance test as anything else.”
Walsh added: “Don’t forget James McCartan was just finding his feet then, we were not given much chance of doing anything and there was a lot of pessimism about. I feel it is very important that we should remember the loyal people who stood by us.”
County board officials are linking up with Club Down officers and personnel from the Down Training Fund Committee to facilitate in a unified approach to the All Ireland final preparations.
The Gold Classic scheduled for Spa on Sunday week is already almost fully subscribed while there is tremendous interest in a Down Celebrity Breakfast which will take place in the Canal Court Hotel, Newry on Wednesday, September 15.