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Here's Why Poor Semi-Final Attendance Is A Case Of History Repeating Itself

Here's Why Poor Semi-Final Attendance Is A Case Of History Repeating Itself
By Gary Connaughton

After yesterday's full house at GAA HQ, we were anticipating a smaller crowd at today's game between Kerry and Tyrone. The early pictures on tv confirmed those suspicions, with a remarkable amount of empty seats.

At half time, the official attendance was announced: 33,848. For an All-Ireland semi-final. It is the lowest mark in this century.

So what contributes to such a low figure? High tickets prices and the Supers 8s are no doubt a factor, but when we look back at the history of GAA attendances, one would suggest there is one driving force behind this dip.

It's Dublin.

The Dubs are on course for five All-Irelands on the spin, blowing away the competition with ease. After watching today's game, you would expect this year's final to play out in the same manner.

Many people claim having such a dominant team is no excuse for such poor crowds at Croke Park today, but we need only look back at the last all-conquering team in Gaelic football to see how Dublin are keeping punters away from games.

Kerry won four All-Irelands on spin from 1978-1981, only for their drive for five to be halted by Offaly in 1982. When you look back at the attendances for semi-finals during this run, they do not make for pretty reading.


In 1978, 25,594 people showed up for the game between Kerry and Roscommon, while 51,666 paid in for Dublin's clash with Down.

Those numbers actually slightly increased the following year, with crowds of 32,254 and 53,402 at the games between Kerry and Monaghan and Dublin and Roscommon respectively.

As Kerry established their dominance, we would see these numbers dip year on year. Both games drew a crowd of 36,000 in 1980, but Kerry versus Mayo would only bring in 24,000 the following year.


In 1982 attendances hit their lowest point. Kerry and Armagh brought a shocking 17,523 people to Croke Park, while 25,000 would show up for Galway versus Offaly.

After Offaly managed to end Kerry's winning run ( and Kerry failed to come out of Munster), attendances would jump the next year.

When Kerry continued to win All-Irelands for the following few years, attendances remained low.


It was only at the end of the decade when that Kerry team dropped off , and the championship became more competitive and unpredictable, that crowds recovered.

History has a funny habit of repeating itself, and this should act as a warning to the GAA.

The gap between Dublin and the chasing pack only seems to be widening, and it look incredibly unlikely somebody will stop them anytime soon. Whereas that Kerry team faded away, the Dubs aren't going anywhere.


Their team is getting younger, and better.

The trend in attendances in recent years is eerily similar to what occurred in the 1980's, with crowds dropping year on year. With the exception of yesterday's game, supporters are just not enthused about the prospect of a trip to Croke Park.

Make no mistake, this is a crisis for the GAA. The worst part is, things are set to get a whole lot worse before they get better.


SEE ALSO: Brolly On Mayo: 'Not Enough Good Men'

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