herald

Friday 22 September 2017

Dubs fans sup for the Cup as 45,000 pints set to be sunk

Behind the scenes at Croke Park with Ryan Nugent.
Behind the scenes at Croke Park with Ryan Nugent.

Boys in Blue and Mayo fans are set to down a whopping 45,000 pints at Croke Park on All-Ireland final day - but Dublin supporters will out-drink their rivals on the Guinness front.

A massive operation is already in full swing at the stadium as the events manager and hospitality staff get ready for the biggest day of the footballing calendar.

The food orders are already through the roof - with Aramark's Conor Merry expecting to sell around 15,000 hot dogs and burgers, along with 10,000 portions of chips to those filling the 71,000 regular seats and terracing areas of the stadium.

Delicacy

For the tens of thousands of Dublin fans queuing up for grub and a drink, many will be served by someone with a familiar accent.

Behind the scenes at Croke Park with Elaine Casey (Event Controller) Ryan Nugent.
Behind the scenes at Croke Park with Elaine Casey (Event Controller) Ryan Nugent.
Event controller Elaine Casey at Croke Park

Conor will have 1,100 staff at his disposal come match day, 300 of whom are from the local area - a company policy.

He said that, when it came to sales, it depended entirely on who the competing teams were.

"If Dublin are playing we sell a lot of Guinness, if Cork are playing we won't - they wouldn't be as fond of Guinness," he said.

"Mayo would be good buyers [of food] as they have to drive home. Galway would be very good - people who live that bit further away."

Conor added that the Croke Park hot dogs - a delicacy to many a match-goer - were specially made for the stadium alone.

"The sausages we use in the hot dogs are actually made by a crowd in Galway and it's a special recipe made for Aramark in Croke Park," he said.

Behind the scenes at Croke Park with Ryan Mullan from the Jones Road
Behind the scenes at Croke Park with Ryan Mullan from the Jones Road

"It's not a normal sausage, it's not a Frankfurt-type sausage - it's a special hot dog sausage made just for us."

Executive chef Ruairi Boyce told the Herald that food orders were talked about in tonnages for All-Ireland final day.

So far he has ordered in 500kg of beef, 600 chickens and around 150 salmon.

As always, the menus have been designed with a competing county twist.

"We find out who the competing counties are, because we like to incorporate food from them," he said.

"Most of our vegetables are grown around the north Co Dublin area and, for Mayo, we're getting crab in. Most of our stuff is sourced locally anyway."

Behind the scenes at Croke Park with Chloe Wilders.
Behind the scenes at Croke Park with Chloe Wilders.

Event controller Elaine Casey expects Hill 16 to be invaded by a swathe of green and red this Sunday, but insists it will be nothing to worry about.

Elaine, according to her boss, is the only female stadium director in any of Europe's big sporting arenas.

"There's a risk everywhere, but if you look at the hurling final, there was great craic between the fans because they are intermingling - you can hear them chanting at each other," she said.

While Irish punters are notorious for chancing their arm to sneak into some of the world's biggest sporting events, it doesn't wash when you try it on your own soil, Elaine added.

"You get a couple saying they're here from X company but they have to go through so many checks," she said.

Safety

"We're wise to each other, I think. We know the different tactics."

Elaine's boss, stadium director Peter McKenna, has met with representatives of Dublin supporters twice over the past six weeks regarding concerns for safety on Hill 16 - an area of the ground that he insists is part of the capital's history.

"We would see Hill 16 as an iconic part of Dublin - up there with O'Connell Street and the GPO," he said.

"The important thing for us is to preserve the terrace as an integral part of what Croke Park is about.

"It is unique in a European context to have a stadium so big - the third biggest in Europe - and to have a terrace that size, 13,000."

The stadium is set - all that's left now is for Jim Gavin's men to climb up the Hogan Stand steps.

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