Leinster GAA has announced that both Leinster quarter-final all 4 quarter- final will be played as a double headers in Portlaoise and Bord Na Mona O’Connor Park Tullamore in two weeks time. The games will feature Dublin v Louth and Meath v Carlow which both will be played on the 25th of May in Portlaoise, while on the 26th of May Kildare play Longford and Westmeath play Laois in O’Connor Park Tullamore.
It goes to show that the GAA is now struggling to get the crowds to the games. In fact, Dublin always had big crowds over 40,000 at their games right up until 2015, when the GAA decided to move them out of Croke Park for their opening game. For instance, Dublin in 2016 played Laois in the Leinster quarter-final at Nowlan Park, a game which attracted just 17,000 people. In 2017 Jim Gavin’s men played Carlow at Portlaoise with a crowd of just 14,000, while in 2018 then it reduced even further to just 12,000 again at Portlaoise.
According to Leinster GAA, they are expecting an attendance of around 17,000 for both games at Portlaoise on the 25th featuring all four counties, Dublin, Louth, Meath, and Carlow. Chair of Leinster Jim Bolger speaking to RTE Sport said “When making the decision about the double-headers we had a look at where we are in terms of the stadiums we have and their capacity,” At present, those capacities aren’t being tested. He continued “We have used Croke Park for big double-headers in the past, but we didn’t feel that the crowds and the atmosphere would be there at present.”
Leinster GAA says that around 11,000 Dublin fans will attend the game, with the 6,000 making up supporters of Meath, Louth, and Carlow. They also state that capacity at Tullamore will be more than sufficient in accommodating spectators from all four counties. Bolger did concede that Dublin were getting big crowds up till 2011, but since then their fans have become spoilt and are waiting for games later in the Summer. He said “I suppose they have become spoilt a little bit and they are waiting for later in the summer. Success takes the edge off it for fans.”
In fairness, crowds are not going to go to games to see teams hammered. Ticket prices are also quite dear. For instance 20 euro into Wexford v Louth last weekend was quite steep, considering it was the same price to go see Tipperary play Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. The super 8’s probably hasn’t helped with crowds, people probably picking the games they would go see rather than going to all three group games.
The Leinster and Munster Championship is virtually uncompetitive and may be supporters now have had enough and are voting with their feet. I guess nothing will be done anytime soon though.