Belfast Telegraph

Urgent need to win back the crowds

The Oisin McConville column

When Dublin hosted Tyrone in the opening match of the 2009 National Football League at Croke Park, an 82,000 crowd hailed a tingling contest that the Red Hands just managed to win.

It proved the perfect send-off to the GAA’s 125th anniversary celebrations because not only was the match itself simply rivetting but the gigantic fireworks display and other entertainment that was provided all combined to make it a truly memorable occasion.

And it’s worth remembering too that the game took place on a Saturday night in early February when being outdoors, never mind being ensconced in a freezing stadium, was definitely not for the casual observer.

Fast forward to last weekend and when Dublin once again confronted Tyrone with Kerry and Down going head-to-head in what was a hugely attractive All Ireland quarter-final double-bill, there were 64,000 fans present.

A couple of years ago I feel certain that a double-header of this quality would have seen the ‘house full’ notice go up at Headquarters.

For the full story, see this week's Sunday Life.

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