GAA set for €16m Croke Park windfall from championship action
It's golden harvest time for the GAA, which is set to bank a whopping €16m from gate receipts for the big All-Ireland football and hurling championship action in Croke Park in August and September.
That's an average of €1.8m for each of the nine match days, starting with last Saturday's Round 4 football qualifiers and finishing with the All-Ireland football final on September 20.
The already massive yield will be even higher if any of the games produce replays, similar to each the last three years when the senior hurling finals finished level - prior to 2012, there had been no drawn hurling final since 1959.
While the odds are against a hurling replay four-in-a-row, they may be shortening in football, which hasn't produced a replayed All-Ireland final since Galway v Kerry in 2000. The previous football final replays were in 1996 and 1988.
Ticket prices for an All-Ireland final replay are reduced but it still yields around €2.7m, compared to €4.7m for a drawn game.
Attendances at this year's championships have been remarkably high, with sizeable increases for the Munster and Ulster championships.
Despite complaints over the one-sided nature of some football games, the public continue to turn out in big numbers.
That looks certain to continue over the coming weeks as the action intensifies in pursuit of the Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire Cups
Total gate income from last year's All-Ireland Championships, excluding provincial championships which are run by the four local councils, totalled €23m.
That included replays in the hurling final (Kilkenny v Tipperary) and the football semi-final (Kerry v Mayo), which was played in the Limerick Gaelic Grounds.
Without replays, the return would have been around €20m, a target that's again attainable this year.
Some 80pc off all national gate receipts is earned from the big Croke Park action in August and September - hence the anticipated €16m windfalll this year.
Last weekend marked a good start - attendance-wise at least - to the key period, with 25,655 spectators turning out for the two football qualifier ties on Saturday evening, while 58,680 watched Kerry v Kildare and Dublin v Fermanagh in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Around 100,000 is expected for the Tyrone v Monaghan/Mayo v Donegal football quarter-finals on Saturday and the Kilkenny-Waterford hurling semi-final on Sunday.
The Galway-Tipperary hurling semi-final and two football semi-finals will also be huge draws - indeed a full house is expected for the Dublin v Mayo-Donegal showdown on August 30.
The vast difference in gate receipts between the All-Ireland Championships and the Allianz Leagues was underlined by last year's yields, with the former grossing €23m and the latter €4.4m.
Total gate receipts for all national competitions was €29.4m, just over 52pc of the GAA's overall revenue.