Sunday 18 August 2019

Martin Breheny breaks down the attendance figures so far in this year's football and hurling championships

There is a marked contrast across provinces with Leinster championships the big losers

'The eventual impact for the Munster hurling championship is that the total attendance will reach around 265,000.' Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
'The eventual impact for the Munster hurling championship is that the total attendance will reach around 265,000.' Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Munster hurling's pre-eminence as the top attraction among all six provincial championships is being reinforced by attendance figures, which are well ahead of last year's record returns.

That's despite the one-sided nature of most of the action in the first four rounds, where only one game (Waterford v Clare) in Round 1 produced a really close contest.

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Clare won by a point on the same day as Tipperary beat Cork by seven points, which was also the margin when the Rebels beat Limerick a week later.

The other five games have been won by an average of 16.4 points, with Limerick's 20-point win over Waterford the widest margin of all.

Overall attendances for the first eight games are up by more than 10,000 on last year and further gains will accrue at next weekend's final round, where Tipperary host Limerick in Semple Stadium and Clare play Cork in Ennis. All four are still in the All-Ireland race, unlike the last round 12 months ago when Waterford were out of contention before playing Cork.

The eventual impact for the Munster Championship - including the final - is that the total attendance will reach around 265,000, up more than 6pc on last year.

Ulster football is also enjoying a boom summer, with crowds up by over a fifth on 2018.

Leinster hurling, as well as Connacht and Munster football, are down while Leinster football is almost exactly the same as last year. However, that's from a very low base, compared to the boom years.

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The total attendance at all the provincial championships so far stands at 483,625 which represents an increase of 12,969 on last year.

Munster hurling

At 180,387, it's 10,283 up on the first four rounds last year and that lead will increase after next Sunday's two games and the final on June 30.

Cork v Waterford and Clare v Limerick attracted a total attendance of 33,540 in the last round in 2018, which is some way short of the anticipated turnout for the Tipperary v Limerick and Clare v Cork games on Sunday.

It will be a surprise if the 40,000 mark isn't passed and, with the final likely to match the 45,363 for Clare v Cork last year, the final total will be around 265,000, compared with 249,000 last year.

Average attendance at this year's eight games to date is 22,548, compared with 21,263 last year.

Leinster hurling

It's down from 79,248 at this stage last year to 68,220 this season. The two top draws in the first four rounds (Galway v Kilkenny and Galway v Wexford) attracted a total of 33,340 last year, compared with 28,402 this season.

From a financial viewpoint, Leinster Council will hope Wexford reach the final. Their clash with Galway in the 2017 final drew a record 60,032 crowd, compared with 40,704 for the drawn Galway-Kilkenny final last year. The attendance at the replay was 25,102.

The average attendance this year is 8,527.

Ulster football

It has been a big success, with crowds up 51pc on last year to 106,067, including the Armagh v Cavan semi-final replay. The increase without that game is almost 21pc.

However, it should be pointed out that last year's figures were very disappointing, with the overall total dropping below the 100,000-mark for the first time in many years.

The average attendance this year is 13,258.

Leinster football

It's marginally ahead of last year (71,501 v 71,304), but it's still a disappointing tale of decline, compared with the peak years. For example, in 2008, the total attendance for the nine games up to the final was 212,837, which is 141,336 more than this year.

That was followed by a crowd of 80,131 at the Dublin-Wexford final. To put the drop in context, the gate at the Dublin v Westmeath stand-alone semi-final in 2008 was 67,075, only 4,000 fewer than the combined turnout at this year's nine games.

In 2008, the average attendance was 29,297, this year it's 7,945.

Connacht football

It's down from 55,630 last year to 45,101, but much of that has resulted from Galway and Mayo not playing each other in 2019. Their clash drew 29,449 last year, compared with 20,471 for the Mayo-Roscommon meeting last month. Seasons when Galway and Mayo don't play each other always show a dip in attendances.

The average attendance so far is 9,020.

Munster football

The worst attended of the football championships, the four games so far have drawn a total of 12,349, down from 24,191 last year. The decline is due almost entirely to the Kerry-Clare semi-final, which drew 16,729 to Killarney last year, compared with 5,037 in Ennis a few weeks ago.

The average attendance to date is 3,087.

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