The government has advanced the new limit of 500 fans for outdoor sporting events to this Saturday. The easing was originally scheduled for Monday, July 5, but earlier Wednesday morning Sports Minister Jack Chambers announced on Twitter that weekend GAA matches could benefit from the new upper limit.
“Small but big change for sporting events. The increase in the number of spectators is applicable from this Saturday July 3 to facilitate the increase in attendance for this weekend’s matches. Further proposals for increased capacity and connections are being developed for July and August. “
This means that in venues with a capacity of 5,000 or more, 500 spectators will be allowed to attend – an increase of 300 from what has been put in place to date. Smaller capacity venues will see the number of authorized attendees double from 100 to 200.
The coming weekend is a very busy one for GAA Championship matches with football championships in Connacht, Leinster and Ulster and hurling championship semi-finals in Leinster and Munster. There are also games in the McDonagh, Ring, Rackard and Meagher Cups of hurling.
The move comes too early for Friday night’s All-Ireland minor semi-final between Limerick and Galway at Ennis, which will be subject to the old limit.
Counties were hoping the new crowd limit would be brought forward after Croke Park got the nod to allow 8,000 to attend Saturday’s Leinster semi-finals.
Other pilot events this weekend are the Connacht football semi-final between Roscommon and Galway at Dr Hyde Park, which will feature 1,049 people, and the Munster hurling semi-final between Limerick and Cork on Saturday evening, which will feature 2 400.
In Ulster where the 500 limit was already in effect, this means Saturday’s Monaghan-Fermanagh quarter-final will now have the same capacity as Antrim and Armagh on Sunday.