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Worrying decline in Leinster GAA SF Championship attendances ahead of final this weekend

Concerns grow as attendances for the Leinster GAA Senior Football Championship continue to decline ahead of the 2024 final between Dublin and Louth.

With Croke Park the venue this weekend for the provincial competition encompassing the counties across Leinster there is a worry that a poor turnout could be an awful image for the sport.

GAA’s own official figures reveal crowd numbers have failed to recover to pre-Covid levels – which themselves were already on the decline.

This year’s semi-finals, played last month, were 21,960 nearly half the 39,028 of six years ago.

And the attendances for the finals have dropped as well, with a crowd of 66,734 witnessed Dublin defeat Kildare in the 2017 final before falling to 41,728 in 2018 between Dublin and Laois with the slide continuing in 2022 with only 38,000 attending.

There was a halt to the decline momentarily last season, as 40,115 fans turned up to Croke Park as Louth looked to lift their first Leinster title since 1957 but many of the Louth faithful are not expected to travel to Dublin this witness a repeat of last year’s final when Dublin strolled comfortably to a 5-21 to 0-15 win.

iRadio journalist Daniel Hussey is incredibly worried as the semi-finals have failed to return to pre-covid levels, with the 2018 double header attendance being 39,028.

He said: “Wtf are we actually doing?

“21,957 at Croke Park today to see Dublin hammer Offaly (9 up at HT).

“Louth getting to a final where the same hammering will unfortunately happen to them.

“The GAA is wasting everyone’s time.”

While Off The Ball journalist Will O’Callaghan believes the GAA to should move the semi-finals away from the 82,300-capacity Croke Park to another venue with crowds declining sharply from 28,081 in 2022 to 30,499 in 2023 before hitting the low of 21,957 this year.

He said: “18,000 at Croke Park for the Leinster SFC double header.

“Argument grows even stronger to play them in provincial grounds.”

The problem seems to lie in the disparity in standard between Dublin and the other counties of Leinster, and until this gap is narrowed, the problem of attendance will continue for the GAA.

The trip to Croke Park is a day event for most non-Dublin fans, and with ticket prices increasing year upon year, there is no reason for them to make the journey to watch their county get hammered by Dublin, a side that has not lost in the competition since their shock 2010 semi-final defeat to Meath.

And fans like Louth native Conrad Ryan and Dublin fan Liam Connelly becoming more uninterested in attending if Dublin continue to stroll to titles with their 14th in a row likely this year.

Ryan said: “I didn’t expect us to win last season, but it was special to reach the final for the first time in years. I couldn’t miss it.

“But with the tickets being €40 and with it likely to be a walkover again this year, what is the point in going?”

While Connelly said: “I’m bored of watching us stroll to the Leinster title. I’m not spending my hard-earned money on that.

“I’d rather wait for the knockouts of the All-Ireland, where the real football is; that is worth my time.”

Feature Image: Fraser Reid, Wikicommons

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