Former Dublin forward Senan Connell has admitted Blues supporters are getting “bored” of Leinster championship games and are “just chatting after 20 minutes”.
The Leinster finalists haven’t lost a provincial game since 2010 and have won 20 out of 20 eastern encounters under Jim Gavin, only failing twice in that period to win by double-digit margins.
Pundit Connell, who works as a coach with the Na Fianna senior team, said there is an obvious “malaise”, the extent of which has “scared” him.
“There has been a malaise for a few years,” said Connell. “I know that and I’ve seen that within my own club, there are lads that would have gone to games, not just passing supporters but hardcore supporters, fellas that would go to all the games.
“The interest increasingly isn’t there in the early rounds in the provincial championship and that scared me a little bit. Being a Dublin supporter and an ex-player you are going to go to every game and try to enjoy it as much as you can but you are looking around you and people are just chatting after 20 minutes. That’s the fear, where is this going? The malaise that I am talking about is on the street. Fellas are saying: ‘We’ll wait until July and we’ll get the three games in the Super 8s. Sure we’ll get one game on the road then and we’ll be looking at an All-Ireland semi-final and the final’.
That’s hurting the provincial championship. (Am I) getting bored of being a supporter? You are bored in May and June and then in July it kicks off a little bit.
Connell said that when he was playing for Dublin in the early to mid-2000s, Championship games involving Dublin at Croke Park “became like a concert — when Dublin were playing you had to be there.
“Kids, women, everybody, the buzz around the city for the Leinster championship was huge because they knew they were getting value for their money at every match,” he said. “If you fast forward it to today, what are Dublin going to have to do? Play in Parnell Park. If the numbers keep dwindling, it’s going to be Dublin at Croke Park with 10,000.”
Connell said he believes the GAA has identified the “disconnect” that has materialised but argued that they have been too slow to change.
“In rugby and soccer they make changes on a whim, we’re so slow to change within the GAA and that’s my fear,” he said. “I’m hoping John Horan and this new (fixtures schedule) committee have a blank canvas. I’d love to see a giant leap forward.”
Ken Hogan, Ger Cunningham and Michael Moynihan review the weekend's hurling drama with Anthony Daly