Last week, Newcastle United traveled to Dublin to play a pre-season friendly against St. Patrick's Athletic. The game was a sell-out with 5'000 fans packed into Inchicore. Three days later, they played Limerick at the same venue in a crucial Airtricity League game in front of 1'600.
This discrepancy is not new to domestic football. League of Ireland fans routinely bemoan the interest in foreign matters over the local game. It turns out this issue is also frustrating for players as current Preston North End and Republic of Ireland striker Sean Maguire outlined.
Maguire was speaking on the official SSE Airtricity League podcast during his return to Cork for a friendly against Cobh Ramblers. When asked about the attendances, he expressed disappointment at the situation.
It is very frustrating. I think there was five thousand at the Newcastle Pats game last week. You'd be disappointed in a way where week in, week out you are getting home crowds, Pats probably only get 1,500 to 2,000. Once these pre-season friendlies come about, big Premier League clubs come over and bandwagon supporters come out and support the Premier League teams. Pats are only getting about 1,500. It's disappointing but look it has been part and parcel of the League of Ireland. Hopefully, it can change.
Maguire pointed to recent Preston signing Graham Burke as evidence of the talent in the league. You can listen to the full podcast here.