Thursday 14 December 2017

Empty seats put Munster seeding back on agenda

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

MUNSTER'S 'weaker' counties are expected to come under renewed pressure to accept a seeded draw for the province's senior football championship after the poor turnout for last weekend's decider.

Just 9,139 spectators turned up to see a novel pairing at the Gaelic Grounds, the first meeting of Cork and Clare in the final since 1949.

Insiders say that this has already renewed pressure to re-introduce seeding, something that the weaker counties do not want to agree to because it will lessen the chances of them making the final in a province dominated by Cork and Kerry.

Munster officials informally sounded out counties about re-introducing seeding and received a negative reaction in some quarters.

Seeding was done away with in 1991, when an open draw was introduced. The seeded draw was brought back in, by a one-vote margin, for the 2008 championship but then reverted to an open format again.

Munster chairman Sean Walsh pointed out that continuing with an open draw will come at a financial cost to the province and, by extension, its counties.

"You can't prepare a proper budget if it's dependent on the championship draw," he said. "We can't continue paying out the amounts we are, unless the income is there to support it."

Walsh also revealed that there is even a difference in attendances if Cork and Kerry meet in a semi-final. There were 23,000 spectators at this year's Cork/Kerry semi-final, compared to 41,000 at their meeting in last year's Munster final and tickets for the provincial final are also more expensive, bringing in more income.

So far there has been no formal discussion of the matter at Munster Council but it is believed that last weekend's low gate will ramp up the pressure and put it on the agenda at the next provincial council meeting in August.

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