It was a thrilling game, the right result and a great atmosphere in Tallaght Stadium last night and the crowd of 5,328 was a record attendance for a home game featuring the Republic Of Ireland Women’s team.
All dreams have to start somewhere. There is always a moment where they take flight and looking at the faces of young fans gathered around Megan Campbell and Katie McCabe after the game you could see a light in their eyes that might see them wear the shirt in years to come.
The football was attacking with Player of the Match Rianna Jarrett getting to the byeline and crossing into the box more times than Seamus Coleman could dream of playing for the Men’s team.
It was at times a bit frantic and not without mistakes but that added to the helter-skelter entertainment and for the cost of €5 with kids going free, there could not have been better entertainment in Dublin last night.
Louise Quinn used all of her Premier League and Champions’ League experience to be there in the right place at the right time when cool heads were needed to hold onto the lead at the end and this was a significant step towards qualification for the Euro 2021 Finals to be played in England and which can be a huge catalyst for the Women’s game here in the same way as the FIFA World Cup was over the summer.
There was a lot to enjoy about the game and the coverage in the build-up and on RTÉ TV.
There are questions to be asked as well though, and the one that will be exercising minds at Abbottstown this morning is the falling short of the anticipated 8,000 capacity crowd.
Nobody as such is to ‘blame’ for the empty seats but in ways everybody is.
By yesterday afternoon there was a waiting list of over 2,000 fans that had expressed an interest in going but who could not be accommodated. So where were the missing 2,600?
The good thing is that we will, broadly speaking, know the answer from technology. There were scanners at each entrance last night so that the data can tell from which cohort of fans the missing bodies came.
Just short of 1,000 FAI season ticket holders had downloaded their specific match tickets for the game. More than twice that many had been taken up by schools and clubs across the city and the country. A similar number again had been taken up in promotional campaigns for sponsors including Three, Aviva and Boots.
Then there were those who had bought their tickets online.
The reality is that the shortfall will have come from across that range of fans. The tickets were priced at only €5 and all U16 kids went free. It’s a harsh reality but something for nothing is less appreciated and at that price point many will have looked at the fact that it was a cold night, remembered that it was a school night, or decided to just flick on the TV rather than jump in the car or onto the bus.
Missing a really entertaining game was their loss but also a loss for those who wanted to but could not go. It was also a slight on the players and the management team who deserved a little better.
Some will blame the FAI for not getting it right in some way but the reality is that a low level of ‘blame’ can be attached to anyone who said they would go and then didn’t.
Fans are an elusive breed, sought after on a constant basis by teams and sponsors but always a little capricious if conditions are not quite right.
We live in busy times with lots of competing attractions and every individual who did not make the journey will have a personal reason to justify that.
But at the same time being a fan comes with a few terms and conditions, as the ad goes, even if they cannot be enforced. If you had a ticket and it went unused you may have prevented a young girl who will now turn back to music or youtube for her kicks as opposed to being one of those in the picture.
If we want to enjoy the moments of glory in sport, they come at a price of occasionally having to endure a chilly night stuck in traffic or the pain of a defeat. It’s worth it though, isn’t it?
Image Credit: Inpho.ie