The GAA are bracing themselves for the worst attendances at provincial football finals in well over a decade.
After just 17,639 watched last Sunday’s Connacht final in Salthill last Sunday, the Leinster and Munster Councils are anticipating disappointing numbers for the traditionally attractive meetings of Dublin v Meath and Cork v Kerry, while Clones’ St Tiernach’s Park has a reduced capacity of 29,000 for the novel pairing of Cavan and Donegal.
A crowd of over 40,000 is expected to attend the Dublin v Meath game, with 20,000 tickets having been sold by Tuesday, while 10,000 have been purchased for the Cork-Kerry match in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening with the final number expected to be less than the 27,674 recorded at the same venue last year.
This year’s aggregate across the four provinces is set to be lower than last year’s 116,416 total, which had been almost 2,000 lower than the previous poorest figure this decade in 2016.
The decline in the competitiveness of the Leinster SFC has been the major contributory factor for the recent fall in provincial final attendance figures, although hope that Kildare could shock Dublin two years ago helped to bring over 66,000 to Croke Park.
At best, the Leinster Council believe 45,000 will attend the game, which compares poorly with previous Dublin v Meath provincial final crowds over the last 20 years — 62,660 in 2014, 69,656 in ’12, 66,275 in 2001 and 56,315 in 1999.
It’s 11 years since the Munster Council offered two tickets for the price of one in the hope of enticing more people to take in the Cork v Kerry provincial decider at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. On that occasion, there was a crowd of 22,784.
The poorest attendance for a Cork v Kerry Munster final in the last 50+ years came in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 1983, when 17,553 watched the Rebels prevent their neighbours from claiming a ninth consecutive provincial title, which Meath hope to do to Dublin on Sunday. The Kingdom are aiming for seven-in-a-row this weekend.