Dublin fans set to outnumber home support in Super 8s Tyrone clash
Dropping attendances and a fall-off in interest could leave this Saturday's Phase Two Super 8s series game between Tyrone and Dublin feeling like less of a home game for Mickey Harte’s men, as Dublin are expected to outnumber the home support.
The All-Ireland champions are fully subscribed with season ticket holders, with 2,500 to be accommodated on the standing terraces in Healy Park.
Outside of this, the overall ticket allocation distributed among Dublin clubs is believed to be set at 4,000, with around 1,000 Parnell Park season ticket holders to be catered for within that number.
Other tickets went on general sale on Monday morning through the usual outlets.
Tyrone have 1,200 season ticket holders, but the Red Hands are not supported in the same numbers as previous years.
Even this year, they were outnumbered by visitors Monaghan for the Ulster quarter-final in Healy Park, which has a capacity of 17,636, with 4,500 seats, 16 wheelchair places and 13,120 standing terrace spaces.
While many are looking forward to seeing how Dublin cope in their one game out of Leinster this season, and their only game out of Croke Park for the Super 8s series, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has played down the effect of playing the game on their home turf of Omagh.
“Is Omagh any big fortress for us?” he asked.
“There is no real history to suggest that it is, but I suppose we’ve never played a Championship game of this importance there before, so we will see what we can do with that.
“But I won’t be depending on the ground to win this game for us, we’d be depending on many other things,” he added.
In Harte’s time as senior manager, Tyrone have played 11 Championship games in Healy Park, winning seven, drawing two (both against Down, in 2008 and 2014) and losing the other two (Armagh in 2014, Derry in 2006).
Their League record is similarly patchy unlike, say, Donegal, who have not been beaten in Ballybofey since 2010 and where Tyrone will have to travel to for the crucial, and potentially deciding, third game.
Harte also went on to talk of the unique challenge of having kingpins Dublin playing a Championship game outside of their own province, which has only happened in the past on five other occasions.
“It’s something we never dreamt would ever happen but it’s a very novel idea the All-Ireland champions Dublin to come and play a Championship match in Omagh in the month of July and we’re lucky to have that opportunity,” said Harte.
“Obviously we should be motivated. When you’re playing the All-Ireland champions you need to be motivated.
“If you’re not motivated playing against the All-Ireland champions then you’re very difficult to motivate, and you’d really wonder if you could be motivated at all.”