“It was one of those weird and wonderful occasions sport can throw up,” was the summary of an unforgettable occasions according to Seamus Reade, County Board Event Controller at Nowlan Park said he never experienced anythink
“We would always have aspsired to host big games at Nowlan Park. We haven’t had an opportunity,” he said when he told us the story. “The opportunity never came our way. This was very special. We hosted the Hurling League final earlier. That was big, a good trial run. There was 21,500 at that game.
“A lot of the work we had done that day was repeated. A huge amount of PR in getting people to buy tickets, to come early, to use the supermarkets to get tickets and so on was done. The match was virtually sold out the day before.
“We never saw anything like the way people reacted to getting ready for the game. Normally you have pre-game entertianment, a curtain-raiser or something. There was nothing like that. Everyone could have arrived at the one time, and we were expecting 23,000.
“You have this thing in Croke Park with the Dubs and with 10 minutes to go the venue can be half empty and then everyone arrives together. This time the ground was virtually full 10 minutes before the start. I think there was 15,000 in an hour before the start. There was something like 8,000 in two hours before.
“People came very, very early. The officials present from Croke Park were amazed by the reaction of fans. We looked out at the stiles before the throw-in. There was no one, not one person, outside.
“Everyone was in five or 10 minutes before the start. We had upwards of 250 volunteers on duty, and the eventual crowd was 23,500. Capacity! It was a day like no other. I walked around the pitch about 20 minutes before the teams came out and there was an electricity and buzz from the crowd the likes of which I never experienced.
“Standing on the pitch you could feel the anticipation. It was like there was an electric current running around the ground. There was no sound, no music, no announcements, just the hum of people chatting. There was an expectation you could feel. It was great to be part of it.
“There were no problems, no children lost. People were in great form; there were no medical issues or anything. A pair of glasses lost was about the biggest problem. I don’t think we will ever experience anything like it again. It was a bonding too between the Kilkenny fans and the team that had given them so much over the past decade and more.
“It was one of those weird and wonderful occasions sport can throw up. Kilkenny hurling has thrown up many great days in Croke Park. This was something like we could never have imagined.”