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Attendance A Major Talking Point As Dublin Grind Their Way To Another All-Ireland Final

Attendance A Major Talking Point As Dublin Grind Their Way To Another All-Ireland Final
By Gavin Cooney

It seems forever thus: Dublin are into an All-Ireland final for the fourth-straight year and a sixth time in eight attempts. They eventually strangled Galway after an oddly bloodless occasion at Croke Park, winning in the end by nine points.

Galway, however, were only two points down at half-time having spurned a penalty, and Jim McGuinness remarked on Sky that Dublin were strangely lethargic.

The occasion mirrored Dublin's lethargy, as vast swathes of empty seats at Croke Park were visible on television. The official attendance was announced as 54,717 and, as the Irish Mirror's Pat Nolan elucidated, it's the lowest attendance for an All-Ireland semi-final featuring Dublin since 1995.

(That '95 attendance was affected by the fact that the Cusack Stand was closed owing to redevelopment).

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Compare today's attendance to the last few All-Ireland semi-finals under Jim Gavin. The last two against Tyrone and Kerry respectively were both sell-outs, as were both of the semi-finals against Mayo in 2015. The 2014 semi-final defeat to Donegal - still Jim Gavin's only championship defeat as a manager - attracted just over a hundred shy of capacity: 82,184.

So what is to blame for the poor crowd? The fact that Galway fans - especially those following hurling - have had an expensive few weeks following their sides is a definite factor, as possibly are the extra games everyone has to fork out for during the Super 8s.

Ticket prices might be a factor too, as is the sheer amount of football of late and the fact that both of these sides have had so much action of late.

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But given that semi-finals involving sides other than Dublin usually attract a crowd of 50,000-odd, the fact of this is that a sizeable portion of Dublin fans decided to stay away. That perhaps says as much about Dublin's dominance, and the expectation that another day out awaits on the first Sunday of September.

 

It didn't feel like an All-Ireland semi-final, but to coin an oft-used phrase in these uncertain times: this is the new normal.

 

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