Hurling league crowds holding up

Hurling league crowds holding up
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael John Horan prior to the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Cork and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Attendances for the opening three rounds of Division 1A hurling are in keeping with last year but Division 1 football crowds are thus far down on 2018.

The total number who attended the first nine games of last year’s top flight hurling was 69,834, an average of 7,759. Excluding the Clare- Kilkenny game in Ennis earlier this month for which no attendance was announced, this year’s estimated figure is 61,622, an average of 7,702.

Division 1 football’s opening three rounds has brought in an approximate aggregate total of 110,000, an average of close to 9,000.

Last year, seven of the opening 12 attendances which were announced attracted close to 89,000, an average of almost 13,000 per game.

However, that did include two Dublin home games and the All-Ireland champions don’t play their second Division 1 match in Croke Park until this Saturday when they face Mayo, which is expected to draw a sizeable crowd.

After the exhilarating 2018 All-Ireland SHC, the news that the hurling numbers have withstood the recent ticket price increase is not unexpected. By the end of January, Limerick had sold over 1,000 more season hurling tickets than last year when the figure was less than 300.

Speaking in front of the Seanad earlier this month, GAA president John Horan revealed attendances across the board for the opening Sunday of the Allianz League has increased by 1,000.

“The attendances at our National League games last Sunday marginally increased to 87,000 from the 86,000 that was there before.”

The GAA’s financial report for 2018 revealed that Allianz League gate receipts had dropped by 20% — “The pattern of falling attendance started in the Allianz League Revenue for 2018 at €431k was down €105k on 2017 at €536k. This was particularly disappointing as we had four Dublin home league fixtures in 2018 compared to three in 2017.”

Further, the league football final between Dublin and Galway, proved not nearly as attractive for supporters as the prior year final between Dublin and Kerry. “The poor weather in late winter and early spring of 2018 later upset attendances.

“Gates were strong in the early rounds of the competition but reduced significantly following a cancelled round of fixtures due to significant snowfalls which closed large parts of the country on one of the biggest weekends for the league, along with the slightly less competitive latter end divisional games.”

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