Cats and Tipp boost bumper summer attendances
The early arrival of Kilkenny and Tipperary in the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers have provided a major boost for this year's championship attendances which are up on last year across all sectors.
The hurling qualifier figures are up by 39pc on last year, helped considerably by an attendance of over 23,000 at the Kilkenny v Tipperary Phase 2 qualifier at Nowlan Park. The football qualifier figures are up by 21pc on last year.
Here's how the provincial championships (minus Connacht and Ulster football, which will be played next Sunday) and the early-round qualifiers have shaped up.
This year's figures were swollen by the Leitrim v London replay, which attracted 5,217, but even without that the turn-out would be up on last year. It was helped by the Galway v Mayo clash in May, a pairing that wasn't part of the 2012 campaign as Galway lost the semi-final to Sligo.
It now remains to be seen how many attend the Mayo v London final on Sunday (the turn-out for the Mayo-Sligo final last year was 23,257).
The turn-out at the Dublin v Meath football final was down 15,000 for the same pairing last year but the crowd of 36,657 at the Dublin-Galway hurling final was up 14,500 on last year, when Galway beat Kilkenny.
A good year on both the hurling and football front, with Limerick's surge boosting the former and Cork meeting Kerry in the final, rather than earlier on, boosting the latter.
The Limerick-Cork hurling final attracted 42,730 last Sunday, compared to 26,438 for the Tipperary-Waterford final a year earlier. The football final attendance was up 27,000 on last year (Cork v Clare). However, the 2012 earlier-round figures were higher last year due to Cork and Kerry being on the same side of the draw.
Up by 5pc on last year, with the final to come. This year's figures got an early boost when 17,519 attended Donegal v Tyrone, a figure which would probably have been higher if the game was played in Clones rather than Ballybofey.
While the early arrival of Tipperary and Kilkenny boosted the hurling qualifiers, their departure from the Munster and Leinster championship was not felt by the provinces.
On the contrary, the combined increase at the two provincial finals was over 30,000 up on last year. Both Round 1 and 2 of the football qualifiers are up on last year.
Connacht* 45,529 55,525
Leinster** 236,591 253,185
Munster 132,699 147,119
Ulster 90,460 94,972
SH qualifiers 46,333 64,234
SF qualifiers 58,765 70,989
Total 610,377 686,024
*One drawn game this year; none last year
**Two drawn games in both years