GAA crowds up - 1.5 million fans expected through gates
Sky Sports may be experiencing a negative reaction to their coverage of the championships but the reverse is the case at the turnstiles, where overall attendances are up on last year.
While the increase is a modest 3pc, it's still a major boost for the GAA in a season where their championships are competing for exposure with the World Cup. Major events like the World Cup, Olympics and European championships (when Ireland are involved) can impact on GAA attendances but that does not appear to be an issue this year.
According to figures compiled by the Irish Independent from the attendances given at venues on match days, the overall attendances at the provincial championships so far is at 386,000.
The biggest increase is in Munster hurling, which is up by 37pc to 69,827, not including the Cork-Waterford replay. It's omitted in order to make an accurate comparison with last year, which had no replay. When included, it brings the actual increase to 81pc.
Ulster football (excluding replays) is up almost 10pc to 103,850 while Leinster hurling has increased 22pc without replays.
The turn-out for Leinster, Munster and Connacht football is down. Leinster has dropped 5pc; Munster is down 28pc while Connacht has decreased 30pc. The drop in Connacht and Munster is caused by the variation in the draws over the two seasons.
Galway and Mayo, always a big attraction in Connacht, met in the first round last year, while this season's clash will be in the final on Sunday week. It's expected to attract over 30,000, which will redress the overall figures.
Attendances in Munster football were higher last year due to the presence of Cork and Kerry in the quarter-finals, whereas they got a bye to this season's semi-finals. The Leinster football total is down 5,000 on last year, which leaves them needing a minimum attendance of 60,000 at the Dublin-Meath final to beat the 2013 figures.
The total attendance at last year's championships was 1,489,205, an increase of 5pc on 2012. With the good start to this year's campaign, there's a good chance that the 1.5 million mark will be surpassed on All-Ireland football final day.