Munster Council refuses to panic over low attendances

Munster Council chairman Jer O’Sullivan has played down the disappointing 19,715 crowd for Sunday’s Munster SHC semi-final in Thurles.

O’Sullivan pointed out Waterford have traditionally not brought large numbers to Munster games outside of finals. Although it seemed they made up a sizeable proportion of the Thurles attendance on Sunday, Waterford feature in six of the 10 worst attendances in the Munster senior hurling championship since 2010.

Clare and Waterford attracted 19,498 to their drawn Division 1 final and 14,201 to the exciting replay, a figure which had been affected by the GAA’s decision not to reduce ticket prices. Munster officials had anticipated the crowd to have been a few thousand better given the hype generated by the league meetings and the success of each in the game’s secondary competition.

The defensive tactics of each county have been mentioned in dispatches as one reason for the lower-than-expected turnout but O’Sullivan suggested a combination of good weather and Waterford’s involvement were stronger factors.

“We would have had all pleased if there was a bigger attendance than 19,000 or 20,000,” he admitted. “But we had a great Bank Holiday weekend and we don’t get too many of those in this country.

“But then as well as that if you look back through recent years, Waterford, with all due respect to them, wouldn’t have brought massive crowds to games and the attendances would always be around 15,000 or 20,000.”

O’Sullivan stated that Munster SHC attendances are up this year compared to this stage last season.

The Tipperary-Cork and Waterford-Clare matches have attracted a combined 48,829 attendance total whereas the Clare-Limerick and Cork-Waterford games in 2015 brought in a 42,540 figure.

Meanwhile, O’Sullivan would not be drawn on the likelihood of Semple Stadium hosting the Munster SHC final on July 10, regardless of who wins the June 19 semi-final between Tipperary and Limerick in Thurles.

Limerick have no home and away agreement with Waterford meaning Semple Stadium will stage the game should TJ Ryan’s men prevail on Sunday week. While last year’s Tipperary-Waterford decider was staged in Thurles after the Waterford County Board came to a financial arrangement with Tipperary and the Munster Council.

The chances are the same deal would be struck again should Tipperary win, meaning either way Semple Stadium would become the first venue to host all Munster SHC matches since Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2001.

It would be the first time the venue has staged the entirety of the competition since it changed name from Thurles Sportsfield in 1971.

However, O’Sullivan said: “We have to see what the pairing is. If it’s Limerick and Waterford, it will be obviously be Thurles but if it’s Tipperary and Waterford that will be a different matter. We will make a decision once we know who is facing Waterford.”

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