BY CHRIS MCNULTY
IN excess of 15,000 Donegal supporters are expected to make their way to Croke Park for Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Armagh.
Following their winning of the Ulster Championship last month, their third in four years under Jim McGuinness, optimism is again high in the county as the team turns its focus to the pursuit of Sam Maguire.
Despite the early-Saturday throw-in time of 4pm, demand for tickets has been brisk in Donegal. Donegal GAA administrator Noreen Doherty confirmed that the County Board had shipped around 8,000 tickets to clubs in the county. With the addition of online sales and sales from ticket outlets in SuperValu and Centra shops, officials have estimated that there will be ‘15,000 plus’ in green and gold when referee Joe McQuillan throws the ball up.
The game is part of a quarter-final double header with reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin facing Monaghan at 6pm. The winners of Saturday’s two games will meet in a semi-final on August 31. Donegal and Dublin are already booked in for an All-Ireland minor Championship semi-final on the same day – can the seniors join them?
The support from the stands has not been lost on McGuinness.
“The Ulster final was just phenomenal,” he told the Donegal News this week.
“When we came out that tunnel, what greeted us was just unbelievable. It will live long in my memory. There were so many Donegal people in Clones. That gives you such a lift when you know that so many people are there and have your back, wanting you to do well.
“We mention that all the time, how we’re doing what we do for the people of Donegal. Hopefully people will travel to Croke Park in big numbers. It would be fantastic to see.”
Alan Milton, the GAA’s Head of Media Relations, said that officials are expecting Saturday’s attendance to breach the 70,000 barrier. “It will be our biggest fixture of the season so far,” he said. “Donegal have traditionally taken huge support to Croke Park and that won’t change this weekend. It will be a special day on Saturday with four counties involved.”
Ciara Hegarty – a current All-Star – believes that Donegal are capable of building up a head of steam...