Thursday 18 January 2018

All-Ireland championship attendances suffer sharp 25pc decline

gaelic games

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

ATTENDANCES at this year's GAA championship are down 25pc on the same stage last year, although part of that is due to the absence of replays so far in this campaign.

There were four provincial quarter and semi-final replays last year and when they are taken out of the equation the attendance decrease is running at 16pc.

However, there are encouraging signs there may be a pick-up from now on as last Saturday's eight first-round football qualifiers showed a 40pc increase on the previous year. Connacht football has increased 4pc (when last year's semi-final replay is taken into account).

Ulster announced a reduction in prices for the Donegal-Derry SF final on July 17, dropping stand tickets 10pc and terrace tickets 16pc. Attendances at the seven Ulster SF games played so far are down almost 17pc on last year but Council chairman Aogan Farrell insisted that had nothing to do with the reduction in prices for the final.

"The Ulster final belongs to everybody, not just the competing counties so we want to encourage as many as possible to attend. We hope that the reduced admission prices will go some way to helping our patrons," he said.

Munster hurling figures are broadly similar to last year (down 912 to 60,581) but there has been a large decrease in football.

Leinster is down by over 24pc on last year's total figures and by 14pc when adjustments are made for last year's two replays.

The surge in the football qualifiers attendances may be partially attributed to the reduced admission charges, although the first-round draw was also helpful, providing a very attractive double-header in Cavan, featuring Louth v Meath and Cavan v Longford. It attracted a crowd of 18,243.

The second-round figures will be watched with interest, as will the Clare-Galway and Limerick-Wexford hurling qualifier gates next Saturday.

Irish Independent

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