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Perfect weekend for spectators to flock back to GAA action

I have no doubt that GAA chiefs will welcome the brighter evenings and the possible end of the current cold snap shortly.

These two factors could have an important bearing on the desire to see improved crowds at matches from now on.

It is no secret that the Association's top brass is disappointed with attendances at league games recently.

Even high-profile contests such as Dublin v Down and Kildare v Tyrone have failed to attract encouraging galleries while some matches in the lower divisions of the league have attracted quite paltry crowds.

There is no doubt that a combination of the costs involved, the weather and the counter-attraction of televised sport have served to keep fans away.

The hope is that from this weekend on followers may be prepared to desert their firesides and attend games and, indeed, I can think of no more enticing menu of league ties than that which is on offer this Sunday.

The season ticket initiative for the McKenna Cup and Allianz League proved a worthy exercise and certainly helped to bolster numbers at games, the value for money deal clearly striking a chord with fans.

The opportunity is there now for people to see games on Sunday all of which are hugely important and thus somewhat removed from the tepid fare which is invariably on offer at the start of any league campaign.

Even though GAA stadia now, as a rule, boast excellent spectator facilities, this does not necessarily guarantee that crowds will come flocking through the turnstiles.

Indeed, people have become more circumspect in terms of the matches they will attend with quite a number of followers prepared to take in games in which their own county is not involved simply because of the quality they believe will be on offer.

As speculation continues in relation to the introduction of the black card initiative on January 1, matches will come under closer scrutiny in the meantime as fans digest the possible implications of the important Congress decision.

I suspect that matches will be viewed now in the light of what constitutes a black card offence and what does not.

And do you know this would not be a bad thing. The sooner we adopt a mind-set for embracing the black card measure, the smoother, I believe, will be its practical introduction.

It's viewed as a radical step in some quarters and a necessary measure in others.

Time will tell which line of thought carries the greater currency.

Belfast Telegraph


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