Have the GAA fouled the ball on OAP tickets?

Our man Frank on GAA ticket prices, the dangers of bargain hunting, and a victorious Irish visit to Martha’s Vineyard…

A few years ago when I reached the ripe old age of sixty-six and qualified for the Old Age Pension, I have to admit that I had pretty mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was proud to have made it that far against all the odds, while on the other hand I realised that being an OAP meant exactly what it said on the tin, and I was now officially branded as an old man. And yet there were, and still are, loads of little perks; like the free travel, and from seventy onwards, free TV licences, and for a while the GAA made allowances for our advanced years and we got half price admission to local championship matches and a €10 reduction on the price of intercounty games.

I have to say that I got great delight arriving into our Creggs matches and producing my spanking new pension card, and even though it was only saving a fiver (usually it’s €10 admission into local intermediate championship games), I used to think that it was the GAA’s way of thanking all of us old age pensioners for a lifetime of service to the very popular organisation. And so I feel very let down and even a bit cheated that the GAA have done away with our half price reductions. For all the club championship matches that took place all around the country at the weekend, the only ones that were offered reduced admission were under 16s, with no mention of us older folk. Now you might say that it’s a small thing, but when you consider all the OAPs who would have gone to see their local clubs play last weekend, it represents quite a big saving for an already very wealthy organisation at the expense of the most vulnerable section of our society.

The other thing that annoys me is that, unless you wanted to go to watch a few matches, you had to go online to book your tickets. If you wanted to go to more than one match you could buy tickets with cash at the various County Board offices last Thursday afternoon. Once again the OAPs are the section of society who have the most difficulty going online and a lot of them, particularly those who live on their own, might have to stay at home rather than going to the match and supporting their local club, simply because they cannot work the online booking system.

On Saturday night I met a man of similar vintage as myself, who told me he played club football until he was 40-years-old and he was very annoyed at the experience he had when he went along to see his own club (not Creggs) play over the weekend. He didn’t know he was supposed to have booked online and when he arrived at the grounds with cash in hand he was told that sadly he couldn’t come in. I won’t say what match he was at, as a kind official actually let him in, but he told me he was embarrassed, upset and annoyed by his experience and he won’t be going to any more of his club’s games.

We all realise that everything is going cashless and obviously the GAA is also going that way, and from a security point of view maybe rightly so, but surely it would be possible to have a specific area at all club matches where people like me who may not be tech proficient could show our pension cards, keep our half price perks and pay by cash. I don’t think it would be asking too much and it would show the most powerful sporting organisation in the country still values all of those older folk who have supported it for many, many years.

As it happened I coughed up my €10 after my young lad did the online booking for me, and I attended a really good game between St. Croan’s and Creggs on Saturday evening, played on the super new pitch they have down there in Ballintubber, a development that is a credit to everyone involved in the rural club. A draw was a fair result and I would think both clubs would be happy enough to have escaped with a point apiece. Each will realise that while they could have won the game, they could just as easily have lost it, so a draw left both of them still in the hunt for quarter final qualification, and looking forward to the next round in two weeks’ time.


Buyer beware of so-called ‘bargains’…

I am a sucker for a bargain and there is no doubt that my defences go down any time I see a sale sticker on anything, but it is no surprise all the special offers we see in our supermarkets may not be as special as we are led to believe.

Santis O’Garro, a budgeting expert, says we tend to forget that supermarkets are businesses whose job is to make money and their special offers are all part of the bigger picture. Apparently they carry out research to find out what triggers the consumer to spend extra money and in a lot of cases we end up buying stuff we didn’t need at all. Deals where we get €10 off when we spend €50 are particularly dangerous because we often buy items we had no real need to buy just to get to €50 in order to qualify for the reduction. Funny enough, the number of times that I have had to rush away from the till to pick up a few items to bring my bill up to €50 is quite worrying and, in truth, I would literally pick up anything at all as long as it brought me up to the required amount.

O’Garro advises you should stick to a shopping list, or else end up with stuff you had no plan for, and which will be thrown out because it went out of date. I have to admit that was another piece that rang a bell with me because we are guilty as charged of throwing out way too much foodstuff, but from now on I am going to change my ways.

Bargains have always tempted me and I told you before of the lad over in London who drank in Jack Grady’s pub, the Golden Lion, where I was working, and who came running in to tell me of a fellow selling three pairs of new shoes on the street outside for £5. Knowing I couldn’t leave the busy bar as I was the only barman on duty, he asked me to tell him my shoe size and he told me he would very kindly get them for me. Handing over my £5 I started to think of my lovely new shoes which I would wear to the dance in the Galtymore the following Saturday night. However as the minutes went by and my new friend didn’t come back I began to realise that this was a bargain that wasn’t coming my way, and I never again saw the man and I never saw the imaginary shoes. And so I got a very early lesson about the validity or otherwise of bargains but sadly the lesson went unheeded and to this day the thought of a bargain still excites me – I don’t suppose I’ll ever learn.


Finally for this week…

We all know how far the tentacles of the Roscommon People can stretch but even I was surprised to hear that we go all the way across the Atlantic to Martha’s Vineyard in Boston where Fiona Finneran, formerly of St. Jude’s, Ardsallaghmore, Roscommon now resides. She manages to get her hands on the People most weeks and shares it with some of her American friends, especially the Lowe family, Eric and Sheryl.

Anyway a couple of friends of mine stayed for a night or two with Fiona last week, and in the course of their visit they were introduced to an American game called Cornhole…a sort of a twist on pitch and toss except you toss bean bags at a board with holes at either end. If you get the bag into the hole it’s worth three points and if it lands on the board it’s worth one point.

An American team consisting of Eric, Sheryl and daughter Emily Lowe along with nephew Nash Pelky took on an Irish team of Ciara Dowd and Shane Finneran (4 to 2 seems a bit unfair to me) and in a result that sent shockwaves all around the Cornhole world, the Irish team were victorious and are now the unofficial world champions.

The Lowes had intended to visit Ireland in the near future but after their surprise loss they will never show their faces this side of the Atlantic such is their disappointment at their defeat.

Despite all of that, however, my friends had a great time in Martha’s Vineyard, where Michelle Obama was out jogging most days, and before they left they invited the Lowes to come to Roscommon for a rematch. If it happens I will keep you posted but until then regards to Fiona and the Lowes in the US and if I ever get to Boston I will have a go at Cornholing.


‘Till next week, Bye for now!