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Monday 18 December 2017

Gavin keeps lid on

Blues boss delays Connolly decision as Croker prepares for bumper weekend

Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Dublin manager Jim Gavin

Jim Gavin has kept everyone guessing on his plans for Diarmuid Connolly as Dublin seek to take one giant leap closer to three-in-a-row.

The Dublin team to face Tyrone, in tomorrow's All-Ireland SFC semi-final at a sold-out Croke Park (4.0), won't be announced until noon today.

The likelihood is that Connolly, just back from a 12-week suspension, won't be named in the official '15'.

However, that won't quell speculation that the All Star forward could be parachuted in to start at the 11th hour.

The bookies are still leaning towards Connolly being held for an impact role, with Boylesports quoting 3/1 that the player will actually start.

Gavin isn't the only manager facing a huge selection call. Mayo boss Stephen Rochford must decide whether to stick or twist with Aidan O'Shea as his full-back gamble on Kerry totem Kieran Donaghy in today's semi-final replay (3.0).

Either way, perhaps the biggest weekend winners will be the GAA, with close to 140,000 expected to flood Croke Park over the two days.

Dublin/Tyrone has long since been declared an 82,300 sell-out, while officials are expecting 55,000 to attend the Kerry/Mayo sequel - down on last Sunday's bumper 66,195 but still massive for a replay.

That could generate a combined gross income windfall of over €4.5m, even though stand ticket prices have been reduced by €10 to €35 for today's replay while terrace tickets are €5 cheaper at €25.

With football and hurling attendances soaring this summer, and adding Coldplay and U2 concerts into the mix, GAA communications director Alan Milton remarked: "I wouldn't imagine there has been a stadium anywhere in the world that has hosted more people this summer."

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