Sport Hurling

Thursday 19 October 2017

O'Neill blames Mother's Day and cold for poor turnout

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

GAA president Liam O'Neill has defended the attendance at Sunday's NFL clash between Dublin and Kildare.

The official crowd present was 18,392, despite a crowd of 15,389 being announced in Croke Park, as the Dubs ended the Lilies unbeaten start to the league in spectacular fashion.

And O'Neill believes the game between two of the country's most in-form sides would have drawn a bigger crowd but for outside influences

"Given that it was Mother's Day and the most bitterly cold day of the year, I think the crowds that came out were fantastic," O'Neill said.

"If it was a fine summer's day and you had a crowd of 18,000 I would be concerned but I wouldn't be concerned about Sunday – 18,000 is a great crowd for a National League match – if League of Ireland clubs had that they'd be delighted.

"If some professional clubs in Britain had 18,000 they'd be thrilled. We had 18,000 here and because the stadium is big enough for 82,000 we're subtracting it from that and saying that's not a good use of a ground.

"I think it is. Any ground where you have 18,000 in I think is good."

Since the inception of the Spring Series, Saturday night games have generally drawn bigger crowds.

The series was dealt a blow when Dublin's hurlers were relegated from the top flight, meaning they missed out on glamour ties against some of hurling's big guns.

However, O'Neill insists attendances like last Sunday pose no threat to the future of the Spring Series and still make opening Croke Park for such games financially viable.

"It is profitable, yes. When a smaller crowd is here it costs less to open. All those things have to be taken into account," he said.

"It's important too that we play a certain number of games here, we need to make the season ticket attractive for people too.

"I think that anybody that bought the extra season tickets here in the premium level is getting fantastic value."

Irish Independent

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