Dubs' opening defence of Sam fails to excite the fans
DUBLIN look likely to begin the defence of their All-Ireland football title on Sunday in front of one of the smallest crowds at a Leinster championship game involving the Blues in Croke Park for many years.
Leinster Council estimates are for a crowd of around 35,000 for the Dublin-Louth and Longford-Wexford quarter-finals.
That's down 7,000 on the attendance at last year's Croke Park June Bank Holiday double-header, which featured Dublin v Laois and Meath v Kildare.
"In the end, it will depend on the size of the walk-up crowd on the day. There's no way of predicting how many Dublin supporters -- in particular -- will turn out on the day. We have two very interesting games, so we'd be hoping for a good crowd, even if it is a bank holiday weekend and a lot of people will be out of Dublin. What we're offering is still great value for money," said Leinster Council chairman Martin Skelly.
Championship attendances have held up well so far, but it would be a major disappointment if the first big showpiece of the summer in Croke Park attracted less than 40,000.
Skelly advises those who are planning to travel to Croke Park to allow themselves extra time and to avoid the city centre where traffic restrictions will apply for the Bavarian City motor racing extravaganza.
Those coming from the south will be worst affected, although Wexford supporters can use the East Link bridge, which will remain open.
Skelly defended the lengthy break between the Longford-Wexford game (2.0) and the Dublin-Louth (4.30), pointing out that spectators can look forward to high-class entertainment as part of the 150- year celebrations of the Dublin Fire Brigade Pipe Band. Up to 14 bands from around the world will be involved in the event.
However, there's a risk with an hour's break between the end of the first game and the start of the second game, many Longford/ Wexford people will leave while the Dublin/Louth public may delay their arrival.