Home GAA Opinion: The Dismal Crowd In Thurles Shows The GAA Have Plenty To Worry About

Opinion: The Dismal Crowd In Thurles Shows The GAA Have Plenty To Worry About

Saturday’s triple header at Semple Stadium in Thurles attracted a mere 15,540 spectators as both terraces were left closed at the ‘home of hurling’.

The day started with the clash of Limerick and Cork in the football qualifiers, a match that was never going to attract a huge crowd. In saying that, the rise in attendance for the second half again illustrates the Cork public’s love for the small ball.

On paper, the two hurling encounters looked very attractive. A struggling Cork against an ambitious Wexford followed by a rival contest between Clare, this year’s league champions, and last year’s All-Ireland u21 champions, Limerick.

However, a total of 15,540 paid their way through the gates of Semple Stadium to watch this triple header. Compare this to the 30,082 that were in attendance for the round two qualifier double header between Offaly and Waterford and Cork and Galway in 2008, and the GAA are sure to be worried.

GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship Qualifier Round 4 19/7/2008 Galway vs Cork Galway's Conor Dervan and Tom Kenny of Cork Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Tom Kenny of Cork in action in front of 30,082 in Thurles, 2008. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

One would think that with both of Saturday’s hurling games on Sky Sports rather than free-to-air TV, the attendance would have soared; however, that was not the case.

Ticket prices can’t really be faulted either. At €25 a head for an adult and €5 for a child, it wasn’t crazy value. That said, the GAA must take a look at their pricing for certain games and rectify the significant demise in attendances across the country.

There is a certain buzz definitely missing from this year’s Championship in both codes and it is something all involved with the GAA should be worried about.

All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Qualifiers Round 2, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Tipperary 9/7/2016 Cork vs Wexford Wexford’s Conor McDonald celebrates at the final whistle Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The tendency to produce thrillers has definitely lessened, certainly in hurling. Saturday’s dull atmosphere only highlighted the lack of intensity and raw aggression present in the clash between Wexford and Cork.

The Model County led with intent and spirit but there was certainly a difference in intensity between their clash with Cork and the Clare v Limerick encounter. Overheard in the stand in Thurles was a comment that really highlighted the need for action.

”They reckon in twenty years time, Sky will be paying people to come to the match to create an atmosphere for the television.”

Arguably an exaggerated statement, the point was well made. People are losing interest in spending money and travelling to their county’s Championship games. Attendances are falling rapidly and the GAA must act.

Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena

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