The best way to describe the experience of sport without spectators is to compare it to a party without people where tumbleweed sweeps the room and those few in attendance are just anticipating their imminent departure.
It quickly became apparent long before entering the gates of Limerick racecourse last Wednesday afternoon that this would be a meeting like no other with deserted roads en route to the ghost town that was the Patrickswell track.
A solitary lorry carrying Ado McGuinness's subsequent winner Laugh A Minute was the sole vehicle encountered making the same journey to the races and the five-year-old's name was in stark contrast to the experience of racing behind closed doors.
After filling out a questionnaire 48 hours in advance to ensure the prime health of all those in attendance, body temperature was taken electronically at the health screening check-in before entering the course and taking up station alongside two other journalists and three photographers in a spacious corporate box.
Half of the excitement of attending a match or a live sports event is the anticipation of what is to follow, though, with enthusiasm generated by mingling with old friends, sharing yarns and soaking up the atmosphere but this was distinctly different.
Officials at the track tried to create a buzz with music blasting out over the tannoy but it was like being the sole punter at a silent disco while there was some degree of irony when the lyrics 'We're all going on a summer holiday' were belted out by Cliff Richard.
The romanticism of the sporting occasion was replaced by sterility and it was a surreal experience. It was sport for the sake of sport and not sport as we know it with trainers watching the progress of their charges from the empty stands with little or no fanfare.
The famous 'Cheltenham roar' when the flag goes up for the opener of the four-day Festival every March was replaced by a deafening silence with the first audible shout coming in the fourth race from one of the McGuinness team when victory looked assured.
There was something beautiful about being able to hear nothing only the galloping hooves at full throttle when the finishing line was in sight - equine beauty at its finest with jockeys driving to the winning post - but also something quite disturbing.
There was no gallery to play to and the excitement of showing up for live sport for the first time since the Cheltenham Festival over three months ago quickly turned to boredom as the lure of the exit grew with each of the seven races.
The glorious final moments of the 1982 All-Ireland SFC final when Offaly's Seamus Darby broke Kerry's five-in-a-row dreams, and the Faithful's 'Five-minute final' against Limerick 12 years later when Liam MacCarthy was miraculously secured, taught lessons to never leave until the fat lady sang, but the prospect of getting back to the car as quickly as possible was appealing.
Everyone involved in the racing industry proceeded with their job as diligently as always but it was not business as usual.
It was professionals doing what they had to do to keep the show on the road and bring home a pay cheque during unprecedented times.
It felt soulless and a million miles removed from the magic of sport that we have become accustomed to. Some owners have voiced their dissatisfaction at being unable to attend but with no possibility of a bet or a drink or a chat, what's the point?
With the GAA's accelerated return set to see club championship action in late July/early August, the possibility of limited crowds going through the gates increases and that's music to the ears of devout supporters starved of live entertainment.
The thoughts of club action without spectators simply doesn't bear thinking about.
Clubs mean everything in communities and everyone's hearts will beat a little faster at the prospect of getting to see their club colours in competition once again over the coming months.
While it's the lesser of two evils to have something taking place given everything that has happened in the last 14 weeks and a welcome topic of conversation other than the coronavirus, it simply wouldn't be the same in an empty ground with no one watching.
Sport without an atmosphere is hardly sport at all and the GAA without crowds simply wouldn't be the GAA.
It goes against everything that the GAA is about and if it's safe for games to take place, it's important that spectators can also play some part.
Racing may be able to function without fans for television purposes but the GAA can't and when inter-county action resumes this winter, let's hope that it will be in front of some of the people that help make the games what they are.