Attendance figures for this year’s Munster SFC are up by 11%, but there has been a strong drop-off in Leinster and Ulster, with crowds falling by 29% and 20% respectively.

Across the five games in the Munster SFC, attendances jumped from 46,660 last year to 51,794 in 2018.

The first Munster football final in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh was watched by 27,764 and although this was slightly down on last year’s provincial final attendance of 31,836, an overall increase of 11% was still recorded.

The spike is largely attributable to the 16,729 who paid in to watch seven Kerry players make their championship debut in the Munster semi-final at Fitzgerald Stadium.

Munster GAA chiefs will be smiling next week as on top of the increase in football crowds, the total attendance figure for the Munster SHC is set to reach 250,000.

The five rounds of the new provincial hurling system drew 203,445 people through the turnstiles, giving an average of 20,000 per game.

Last year’s total, encompassing four knockout fixtures, was 127,992. Sunday’s full house in Thurles will see this figure bettered by 95%, taking into account an additional seven games.

Indeed, this weekend’s meeting between Clare and Cork will be the first Munster hurling final sell-out at Semple Stadium, which has a capacity of 46,414 according to the 2015 GAA annual report, since the 2006 clash of Cork and Tipperary.

It is not surprising to see such an uptake for the final given the games have been so remarkable all along,” said Munster Council chairman Jerry O’Sullivan. “The football figures are most welcome.

The picture is not as rosy elsewhere, with Leinster attendances falling by 29%. The 2018 total came in at 116,713, almost 50,000 down on 2017.

The main factor here is the attendance at the Leinster final — Dublin-Laois was watched by 41,728, while the 2017 decider between Dublin and Kildare drew 66,734.

Crowds in Ulster went through the floor with increased ticket prices believed to be a factor. The total attendance figure for the Ulster SFC is 98,950, down 20% when compared with 2017.

Last year, only one Ulster fixture (Monaghan-Fermanagh in the preliminary round) drew a crowd of less than 10,000. This summer, there were four games which fell into this category.

Donegal manager Declan Bonner, speaking after their Championship opener, called on Ulster Council to review their prices.

Seated adult tickets rose from €25 to €28 for those purchased pre-matchday, while entrance to the terraces cost €18, up from €15. U16s, in recent years, have been charged £5 or €5 for entry to the seated stand, whereas this was the first year where that charge also applied to the uncovered areas. “It’s €28 prior to a match or €35 if you’re getting tickets on the day. That’s a lot of money and something the Ulster Council needs to look at,” said Bonner.


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