Hurling semi-finals trump football in television viewing figures
The All-Ireland hurling semi-finals attracted more viewers this year than the All-Ireland football semi-finals.
According to insights from Sport For Business, Limerick's win over Cork attracted an average audience of 543,000 viewers while Galway's semi-final draw with Clare drew 454,000 viewers for the first game and a further 417,000 viewers for the replay in Semple Stadium.
The football semi-finals were the most watched gaelic football matches of this summer with an average of 449,000 tuning into Dublin's hammering of Galway while 447,000 watched Tyrone's narrow win over Monaghan at Croke Park.
Hurling's return marks a dramatic turnaround for the small ball game given the fact that the All-Ireland hurling final between Galway and Waterford last year was the only match to feature in the top 20 most-watched programmes on Irish television in 2017.
Of the top 20 most-watched programmes of last year, 11 belonged to sport with seven of the top 10 spots also belonging to sport.
The top 10 included:
1. The Late Late Toy Show (1,345,700)
2. The Sunday Game Live (Dublin v Mayo, Senior Football Final) (1,141,200)
3. World Cup playoff second leg Republic of Ireland V Denmark (1,038,600)
4. The Sunday Game Live (Galway v Waterford, Senior Hurling Final) (916,500)
5. World Cup qualifier (Wales v Republic of Ireland) (866,100)
6. RTÉ News: Nine O’Clock (Ophelia) (845,700)
7. Six Nations: Ireland v France (826,400)
8. Six Nations: Wales v Ireland (818,300)
9. Six Nations: Ireland v England (753,200)
10. Mrs Brown’s Boys CSI:Mammy (753,200)
The All-Ireland semi-final between Kerry and Mayo ranked in 12th spot on the list with an average audience of 729,600 viewers while Dublin's mauling of Tyrone attracted 663,400 viewers.
The dramatic drop in viewing figures this year represents a 35% decrease for the football which follows on from a 22% drop in semi-final attendance from last year to this year.
Colm Parkinson and Cian Ward highlighted a few reasons as to why attendances, and viewing figures, may have been below par this year on Monday's episode of the GAA Hour.
"Probably a number of different factors to it, the dominance of Dublin being the most obvious one to me. You (Wooly) were talking last week in the build-up about Dublin versus the handicap, and that's every game. This is an All-Ireland semi final against a Galway team who we've watched all year and know are a very good team.
Ward continued, "Neutrals don't really care about that too much (seeing the Dubs in the flesh). At this stage most think 'whats the point in that?' They'd rather go and watch a competitive match, something where the game is in the balance right until the end."
"Secondly, we are left at times with matches that can be quite dour on occasion because scores are very hard to come by when teams are very competitive. The top teams are playing a possession based game were they rarely take it to contact because they will lose the ball."
"It doesn't make for an exciting spectacle." Ward said.
Parkinson interjected to back up Ward's point about the game not being an exciting spectacle, something which is turning fans away from the turnstiles.
"Even Dublin are not an exciting team anymore. They're methodical. I was reading Malachy Clerkin's match report and he had in the first half, excluding frees, only Ciaran Kilkenny scored from outside the 'D'.
Against Galway, a team that pack out the 'D'. So Dublin aren't even entertaining this. The tap over points don't really get the crowd off their feet. The flair has gone out of Dublin, the flair has absolutely gone out of Dublin, and the reality is, they are no longer an exciting team to watch." Said Wooly.
Cian Ward claimed that the excitement and flair has actually been coached out of Dublin and that they are now too machine like to really grab one's attention.
"The flair has been coached out of them. They are machine like in what they do, it's process, process, process. If you were to compare the shot selection from Monaghan & Tyrone match versus Dublin. Monaghan and Tyrone were taking shots from around the 45, just outside the screen. Dublin very very rarely take those shots on.
"The point is it's not very exciting to watch, it might be very efficient and effective, but machinery is boring to me." said Ward.