Munster rivals to take hurling crowds past half million
The turnout at this year's hurling championships will pass the 500,000-mark at Sunday's Cork-Waterford semi-final and is heading for an overall increase of over one-third on 2016.
It's a major boost for 'small-ball' action, which despite staging fewer games than football, has produced far more exciting action.
And there's more to come as Cork and Waterford meet for the second time in eight weeks on Sunday, followed by the final on September 3.
Last Sunday's 68,184 attendance at the Galway-Tipperary semi-final took the total so far to 448,553, an increase of 115,944 (35 per cent) on last year.
If Cork v Waterford matches last Sunday's turnout, a full house for the final would leave the overall total within touching distance of 600,0000, up 154,600 on last year.
interest The Kilkenny-Waterford semi-final went to a replay last year, boosting the season's total. However, the attendance at the draw (34,729) and replay (34,729) is unlikely to be any higher than the crowd at next Sunday's game.
Cork's return to the big time has attracted massive interest on Leeside, which was a major factor in the 27 per cent increase in attendances at the Munster Championship.
Wexford's revival, coupled with a surging confidence in Galway, combined to attract a record attendance of 60,032 at the Leinster final, more than double the crowd at the Kilkenny-Galway decider last year. It helped Leinster to enjoy a 61 per cent increase on 2016 figures.
Kilkenny's presence in the qualifiers led to a surge of interest and the trend continued in the quarter-finals which were played over two days to mark the re-opening of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The total attendance for the two games was 60,320, double the crowd at last year's double-header in Semple Stadium.