Saturday 27 May 2017

The league's landmarks

May 3, 2010: Relegated to a Sunday evening throw-in because of a clash with the Munster-Biarritz rugby clash, the Cork-Galway and Clare-Wexford NHL finals attracted only 14,200 to Thurles. A crowd of 27,000 attended the NFL finals (Divisions 1 and 2) at Croke Park a week earlier. February 3, 2007: Saturday night fever at Croke Park as the floodlights are switched on for the first time. A record crowd (71,678) for a league game watched Tyrone beat Dublin. April 23, 2006: A clash with the Leinster-Munster European rugby game at Lansdowne Road prompted the GAA to stage the Galway-Kerry NFL final in Limerick on a Sunday evening. Only 7,598 turned out, with many of them there for the Cork-Laois All-Ireland U-21 football semi-final. 2002: National Football League began in February, five years after hurling had switched to the one-calendar-year model, rather than playing some games pre-Christmas. 1998: The NHL began in March and finished in May. It proved very successful, with over 40,000 attending the Limerick-Waterford and Clare-Cork semi-finals and 33,000 at the Cork-Waterford final. 1997: NHL split, with the divisional games played in spring and the semi-finals/finals in August and October. It didn't work out, especially at the semi-final stage where there was little public interest . 1993: A total of 110,882 watched Dublin and Donegal in the NFL final draw and replay. A crowd of 59,703 saw Dublin win the replay by four points. Attendances at football finals have been nowhere near as big since. 1988: Who said the NFL has to be completed by April? Meath beat Dublin in a replayed football final on May 22 before a crowd of 33,260. Over 41,500 attended the drawn game five weeks earlier. The replay was delayed because of the All Star tour to the US.

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Irish Independent

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