Wednesday 13 December 2017

GAA attendances beat recession to reach milestone

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA will welcome its one millionth championship spectator this season through the gates of Croke Park for Saturday's first of two All-Ireland quarter-final double bills.

The games between Kerry and Down and Tyrone and Dublin are expected to draw in excess of 70,000 and that will push figures over the one million barrier once again. Despite the challenging economic times, the proliferation of live televised matches and the World Cup, the association now believes it is only two per cent down on numbers compared to the corresponding time 12 months ago.

Some 959,367 supporters have come through the gates for 79 inter-county games in both codes. Last year's figures were gathered from 76 matches at this stage. Significantly, attendances in the qualifiers for hurling and football are up 13 per cent on last year, with Dublin's involvement probably the critical factor.

However, the absence of Dublin from a Leinster final, allied to some poor crowds for Munster hurling championship matches between Cork and Limerick and Waterford and Clare, have kept attendance figures just below last year's level.

In 2009, 1,491,207 attended all games and earlier this year an Irish Independent analysis of games revealed that footfall has decreased by 13 per cent. However, this seems to have picked up in recent weeks, according to the figures released yesterday. The GAA are crediting their innovative ticket packages for keeping attendance figures at much the same level as 2009.

Over the last two years the GAA has been budgeting for a dip in attendances of between seven and eight per cent, so on that basis they are ahead of expectations. The prospect of fewer live televised games when the new broadcasting contracts are drawn up next year remains on the cards while the calls for a cull in general ticket prices are also likely to grow more audible for next season.

The CCCC yesterday fixed the four SFC quarter-finals, with Kerry and Down preceding Dublin and Tyrone on Saturday, while Cork and Roscommon will be the curtain-raiser for Meath and Kildare on Sunday.

Saturday

All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals:

At Croke Pk: Kerry v Down, 2.0; Dublin v Tyrone, 4.0.

Sunday

All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals:

At Croke Park: Cork v Roscommon, 2.0; Meath v Kildare, 4.0.

Irish Independent

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