FORMER DUBLIN FORWARD Ray Cosgrove has lamented the poor attendance levels at the All-Ireland semi-finals this year, saying that it was like attending a ‘league game.’
A crowd of just 54,716 turned out for Dublin’s final-four clash with Galway, while Tyrone and Monaghan’s meeting attracted only 49,496 spectators to Croke Park.
These figure are among the lowest to attend an All-Ireland semi-final in the last 10 years, and Cosgrove has even noticed that the atmosphere seemed flat before reaching the business end of the championship.
It’s a different landscape to the one he experienced during his inter-county career, and he admits that Dublin’s dominance has been a factor.
I was walking down Jones’ Road going to Croke Park for the semi-final and it seemed like a league game,” he says. “The attendance was so poor.
“I was really scratching my head here thinking ‘what’s going on here?’”
Cosgrove added that the poor crowd numbers at the semi-finals suggests that fans who haven’t been in the stands supporting their team in the previous rounds will be on the hunt for All-Ireland final tickets.
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The launch of Londis 7s, the All-Ireland Senior Football Sevens, which takes place on the 1 September 2018 at Kilmacud Crokes.
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“For 54,000 to show up, it was disappointing from a Dublin fans’ perspective. Then you’ll have a lot of guys who will come out from under the wood work for Sunday and will be occupying seats in Croke Park.
I’d love to know where those 30-odd thousand people have been and why they weren’t behind the team in the semi-final?”
“Even going in to Croke Park for the ‘Super 8’ games. The atmosphere was a little more low key because the guys have been so dominant, especially in the provincial championship.
“It has taken away [from the occasion]. And obviously going for four-in-a-row and the success of the last few years, there’s a little bit of…the expectancy levels are high but a lot of people probably believe that Dublin have enough in the tank.”
Cosgrove has also observed a drop in ticket requests this year compared to the previous deciders between Dublin and Mayo.
Ray Cosgrove in action during the 2002 All-Ireland championship.
The 2002 All-Star’s parents are both from the Connacht county which undoubtedly added to the demand for tickets, but Cosgrove has noticed a major change in this regard for the 2018 decider.
“With Tyrone in it this year, there hasn’t been nearly the same crazy demand in previous years. Also, a lot of neutrals would have gone to Croke Park to support Mayo and I don’t think there’s that much of a demand.”
Cosgrove anticipated that Dublin would suffer this year in the absence of Diarmuid Connolly, who is based in Boston for the summer and who Cosgrove considers to be ‘one of the best footballers in the country.’ He had similar feelings after defender Rory O’Carroll opted to move to New Zealand.
The Kilmacud Crokes man was proven wrong on both counts as new talents like Brian Howard have come through to help Dublin along the path towards securing a fourth consecutive All-Ireland crown.
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“I was only talking to someone during the week, and they were making that point. You think of Rory not being around, Diarmuid not being around, and Bernard (Brogan) obviously being injured, they’re three integral players of previous All-Ireland winning teams.
“It just shows you the conveyor belt of talent coming through is phenomenal. Con O’Callaghan stepped up to the plate last year, young Eoin Murchan is having a massive year and Brian [Howard] has probably been the find of the year.
“Brian Howard wouldn’t have the silky talents that Alan (Brogan) would have had but he knows what his job is, and he’ll execute that job to the nth degree. And maybe that’s what’s different with the current team to teams that have gone in the past.”
Ray Cosgrove was speaking at the launch of this year’s Londis 7s, the All-Ireland Senior Football Sevens, which takes place on 1 September at Kilmacud Crokes GAA Club.