Full house for double-header offsets drop in attendances
The first 'full house' sign of the summer will be erected for Saturday's attractive All-Ireland quarter-final double-bill as four of the top five teams in football grapple for the two remaining All-Ireland semi-final spots.
In a championship season where attendances have been under some pressure, especially in Munster and Leinster, a capacity 82,000 crowd to see the clashes of Mayo and Tyrone and Dublin and Donegal will help to stem some of the loss already felt.
Just 29,521 turned up for last Sunday's first quarter-final double-bill but Saturday's surge will go a long way to compensating for that and leave the overall attendance just 9,000 down on last year's combined figure for the same stage of the competition when 120,481 watched the four games.
Dublin and Donegal have gone close to selling out in their two most recent All-Ireland semi-finals in 2011 and 2014, while Mayo and Tyrone drew 65,345 in their 2013 All-Ireland semi-final. Had Saturday's pairings been split over successive weekends it would surely have led to a spike in the overall figure.
The 27,615 crowd in Croke Park for last Saturdays fourth round qualifiers was 2,000 more than the same programme last year that featured Tyrone, Sligo, Donegal and Galway.
The combined Leinster football and hurling championships took a big hit due to a few factors, mainly Westmeath's advance to a second successive football final and the clash of the semi-finals with the Ireland v France Euro 2016 game.
Leinster Council moved quickly to put back the times of their games rather than clash directly, but overall their figures (excluding the hurling round-robin games) dipped from over 250,000 in 2015 to around 193,500 this year.
Munster has also taken a big hit on the back of having to fix their hurling final between Tipperary and Waterford in the Gaelic Grounds and Tipp footballers' shock semi-final win over Cork. Their 2015 figure of 209,448 has dropped to 141,567 this year, though a 32,234 replay crowd for a football final replay between Cork and Kerry has to be factored in.
Overall provincial figures, not including replays, are down 15.5pc from 632,142 to 534,272.