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Croker gears up for biggest crowd of year

THE GAA is gearing up for its largest summer attendance so far as All-Ireland football champions Dublin and a trio of Ulster pretenders prepare for an invasion of Croke Park this weekend.

A crowd of 70,000-plus is in the offing for Saturday's SFC quarter-final double-header involving Donegal/Armagh (4.0) and Dublin/Monaghan (6.0), especially if there is no repeat of the torrential downpours that scared away many would-be travellers from last Saturday's football qualifiers at HQ.

With the weather improving and Croke Park reporting massive interest from the four county boards involved, it's a certainty that a new attendance high for the season will be set. That currently stands at 62,660 for last month's Leinster final between Dublin and Meath.

Alan Milton, the GAA's head of media relations, cautioned against the prospect of an 82,300 sell-out but pointed to significant ticket demand in all four counties, not just Dublin who invariably bring out the masses come the All-Ireland series.

"There has been a very strong uptake and we are heading for the biggest crowd of the season," Milton told The Herald. "I think interest will ramp up between now and Saturday.

"You are only an hour to Crossmaglen (in south Armagh), Monaghan is much the same and Donegal are legendary for their support. All told, it's a very attractive double-header."