GAA | 9 months ago
League attendances and scoring stats rubbish Joe Brolly's doom and gloom notion
Who'd have thought it?

The current era is the most depressing in the history of the GAA. Or so says Joe Brolly.

It wouldn't be like him to paint a dull outlook of modern day Ireland or even to just ignore that we're witnessing some of the finest contests - in both codes - that the game has ever produced.

A few mundane spectacles each year to get to those stages are skewing the view of the GAA's critics but Brolly has his stance and he's sticking to it.

"The fun has evaporated. The quality of the game has nosedived. Attendances have collapsed," the Derry man wrote in his Independent column.

Brolly was focusing more on the state of the club game and it's hard to argue with the pressure at that level, with the fixture chaos, the joyless coaches and the guys pissing off to pastures new and foreign. But the RTÉ pundit never misses an opportunity to take aim at the current county game either and he did so freely, alluding to last year's championship average attendances being down compared with 2007.

But what about this year?

Contrary to some of the scaremongering, the trend of attendances at inter-county games is actually improving.

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  • In 2016, the attendances at the four opening Division One games totaled 41,456.
  • In 2017, the attendances at the four opening Divsion One games totaled 39,578.

Why's that an improvement you ask? Simple. The Croke Park factor.

Of those 41,456 last, over 30,000 of them were at headquarters for Dublin v Kerry. You couldn't have asked for a more blockbuster start.

The other three games saw attendances of 3,600, 4,849, and 2,900.

In 2017, the first round league attendances were much improved in general:

  • Cavan v Dublin - 16,331
  • Mayo v Monaghan - 10,817
  • Donegal v Kerry - 6,320
  • Tyrone v Roscommon - 6,110

Imagine what that will average out like come next Saturday night when Dublin entertain Tyrone under lights.

Then, onto the actual business of entertainment.

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Now, this is an area that takes a lot of pride-swallowing to even think about getting into because sport is sport - teams are under no obligation to treat the crowd to a spectacle or to play 'in the right way', whatever the hell that is.

But if you do want to go down that route and you are the sort of guy that's wooed by scores and only accept a contest when there are a lot of white and green flags being waved, then the upward trend in the national league could be just for you.

In comparison to last year's opening round fixtures, all four divisions posted higher scores in 2017.

Division One

2016: 108 scores (in four games of round one)
2017: 118 scores

Division Two

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2016: 90
2017: 109

Division Three

2016: 87
2017: 105

Division Four

2016: 90
2017: 102

Up. Up. Up. Up.

Now, Brolly is focusing on 'eras' - back when men were men and all that - and we're simply looking at the difference of one round this year compared with one round last year.

But there's a trend here and it's going in one direction. There's an appetite to get to games and the games they're seeing are posting more scores.

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Still, there is a massive drop-out rate that Brolly's talking about and it is concerning. He doesn't always talk baloney - sometimes he just gets his wires crossed. In this case, the inter-county game's health should have nothing to do with his argument. Because it doesn't help his argument.

Zach Tuohy on the latest GAA Hour show which also includes a David Breen interview and some Denis Bastick love. Listen below or subscribe here on iTunes.


While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Irish legends Shay Given and Clinton Morrison on the couch!


Read more about:

Dublin GAA, Kerry GAA, Donegal GAA, Tyrone GAA, Joe Brolly, Croke Park, Cavan GAA