Sunday 17 December 2017

Empty stadia an insult to on-field skills

Cork manager Jimmy Barry Murphy
Cork manager Jimmy Barry Murphy

Off the ball - Michael McCarthy

It was Sunday in Thurles, and though the air was damp and the drizzle fell, the arrival of summer was verified by the start of the Munster Hurling Championship.

The game didn't disappoint either, a team of young bucks and, seemingly, no-hopers challenging the All-Ireland runners-up and almost causing the shock of the year, already.

After one of the greatest championships of all time in 2013, the first high-profile game of 2014 set our pulses racing.

So then, why was the game played in a two-thirds empty stadium? Why are marvellous, miraculous scores being fired into the waiting glory of wet concrete?

More pages than we can count have been printed and even more hours have filled the airwaves about the wonder and magnificence of hurling in the last year, but last Sunday, the GAA told us that 16,025 made the trip to Semple Stadium.

Cork fans will argue it could be a long season ahead following Jimmy Barry Murphy's men, and a lot of money will have to be spent. Waterford will point to very little hope in the county for a team so ravished by injuries.

Tipperary and Limerick will attract a much bigger crowd next week, but it's hard to see anywhere near a full house.

Ultimately, for all the goodwill and love for hurling at the moment, we're not truly supporting the product; we're not getting to games.

Too many are played in half-empty stadia and, right now, it doesn't befit the sheer brilliance on display.

Irish Independent

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