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.
Attendance of 54,717 at Croke Park. It's the smallest for an All-Ireland semi-final involving Dublin since 52,606 watched them beat Cork in 1995. #GAA
— Pat Nolan (@pat_nolan) August 11, 2018
(That '95 attendance was affected by the fact that the Cusack Stand was closed owing to redevelopment).
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.
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.
— Declan Varley (@declanvarley) August 11, 2018
54k for an All Ireland semi final featuring Dublin. That will be the biggest alarm bell for Croke Park HQ. Gaps between games not helping attendances #gaa
— Kevin Breslin (@KevineBreslin) August 11, 2018
— Ben L (@purplebenny) August 11, 2018
Pathetic attendance at Croke Park for the semi final.
— daveyboydl (@Ripvan73) August 11, 2018
54,716 in Croke Park today. Super 8s, lack of time between matches, people away and the Dubs success impacting attendance's?
— Alan Kinsella (@electionlit) August 11, 2018
Honestly...an all ireland football semi-final and there’s only 55,700 in Croke Park...and I can understand, Galway are in the Hurling final next week...it’s a lot of money
— Maria S (@Maria_Shannon) August 11, 2018
Only a few hundred more here than for Saturday evening hurling semi-final between Galway and Clare. Mmmm.
— Kieran Cunningham (@KCsixtyseven) August 11, 2018
Only 54,700 in Croke Park today for an all Ireland semi final tells you everything you need to know about the state of Gaelic football at the minute, ppl finally starting to vote with their feet @officalGAA #DUBVGAL #gaa #fuckthehandpass
— Ciarán Corrigan (@ciarancorrigan) August 11, 2018
54,000 for an All Ireland semi final involving Dublin in Croke Park is actually pathetic.
— James Irwin (@OfficialBigJim) August 11, 2018
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.