50,000 landmark underlines growth of ladies game

Dublin won back-to-back All-Irelands by finally wrestling the Cork monkey off their back and the other big talking point in Croke Park yesterday was the massive attendance.

50,000 landmark underlines growth of ladies game

By Cliona Foley

Dublin won back-to-back All-Irelands by finally wrestling the Cork monkey off their back and the other big talking point in Croke Park yesterday was the massive attendance.

The ladies’ treble-header hit another new and ground-breaking record crowd of 50,141.

That was an increase of almost 4,000 on last year’s historic 46,286 which itself was over 11,000 larger than the 34,445 in 2016.

But the significance of yesterday’s massive crowd was not only that it broke the 50k mark; it was also the sixth highest attendance of any game in Croke Park this year.

Only the men’s senior All-Ireland finals, the two hurling semi-finals and Dublin versus Galway in the SFC Championship semi-final were greater.

Six counties were involved yesterday, which slightly skews the figure.

But the number still meant that more people came to watch a women’s football event than attended this year’s Tyrone v Monaghan men’s SFC semi-final (49,696).

Yesterday’s massive support, helped by having the Jackies so centrally involved, was actually not far off the 54,716 crowd for the Dublin men’s semi-final either this year.

That extraordinary rise in the popularity of the women’s game over the past three years reflects the growth of its playing numbers to over 180,000.

Its popularity has also been hugely boosted by new sponsorships and the exponential rise in promotion that has come from that.

But the burgeoning quality of the women’s game and some great rivalries has undoubtedly also helped to popularise it.

Those who came yesterday witnessed an absorbing and titanic senior tussle and Cork’s less experienced side earned huge kudos for their defensive performance but not even repeated heroics could stem the blue tide.

A sense of pride hits you with that crowd but that doesn’t matter unless you have the win,” Dublin defender Sinead Goldrick said.

“Today was a good display of football and that was important to us.

“You don’t want to just win, you want to win so that 50,000 people have respect for the game and the skill, and hopefully we showed that today.”

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