Monday 23 April 2018

Dublin games 'not set in stone' at Croke Park – Skelly

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Attendances at Munster hurling and Leinster football matches were in line with expectations over the weekend, leading officials in both provinces have said.

The sight of empty terraces in Semple Stadium for Waterford-Clare Munster hurling championship clashes has become all too familiar over the last few years with just 12,103 paying in last Sunday.

In the corresponding fixture 12 months earlier there were 12,296, a lift from the 11,028 which attended the 2010 match between them at the same venue in extremely wet conditions on the June Bank Holiday Monday.

"We thought we might get a crowd of between 12,000 and 15,000 because on Friday we had 7,000 tickets sold. Unfortunately it didn't materialise," said Munster chairman Robert Frost.

"There isn't much money around. Our prices, like all the provinces, are keen, but there are factors associated with travelling to games other than ticket costs."

Frost said a home-and-away arrangement between Clare and Waterford wasn't feasible for a game of this nature because of capacity issues at Cusack Park in Ennis and Walsh Park in Waterford.

"The capacity in Cusack Park is 12,000, Walsh Park is less than that. Neither venue could accommodate this crowd," he said.

Generating a better atmosphere in the early stages of a provincial championship is a potential spin-off however, and something Leinster Council will consider for 2014, chairman Martin Skelly said.

Skelly reiterated his view that the 'Spring Series' was having an impact on Dublin attendances for Leinster matches in Croke Park.

"I think the fact that Dublin play so many games there now is diluting the novelty of going to Croke Park for some at this time of year," he said.

Skelly added that it wasn't "set in stone" that Dublin play all their matches in Croke Park and suggested Nowlan Park in Kilkenny, with a capacity in excess of 20,000, and O'Connor Park in Tullamore (18,000) could accommodate quarter-finals involving Dublin in future.

Skelly also revealed that the uptake of discounted tickets through clubs has been very low for Leinster games so far.

"I can't understand that people don't buy their tickets through his scheme," he said. "Tickets for Croke Park on Saturday were €25 but bought through a club there was a €10 discount. You can be on the terrace in Tullamore on Sunday for €5."

Meanwhile, Frost has also admitted that there will be a review of the Munster football championship structures at the end of the season after Kerry's 26-point trouncing of Waterford put the prospect of a seeded draw back on the cards again.

The open draw was brought in to give Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Waterford an opportunity to reach a Munster final without having to play Cork or Kerry. But finance and the heavy quarter-final beatings sustained by Limerick and Tipperary could prompt another review.

"We're keeping an open mind about it. Obviously we would be concerned but we're dealing with Division 4 teams against Division 1," said Frost.

Irish Independent

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