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  • GAA

Killinan End column

Wednesday, 9th January, 2019 10:41am
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Killinan End column
Killinan End column

It is a curious state of affairs as we stand on the threshold of what might be a momentous year for Gaelic Football, or at any rate a year for a momentous achievement, that the very fundamentals of the game are up for discussion.

Naturally a conversation about the state of the game is always welcome but the pity is that things have developed to the point of almost existential crisis. Some 36 years ago the excellence of the Kerry team which was in pursuit of a unique place in history trumped all else. That said it would be ahistorical and remiss not to recognise that in 1982 there were also some questions about the state of Gaelic Football. Only 17,000 attended the Kerry-Armagh All-Ireland semi-final, a factor attributable in the eyes of many to the inevitability of Kerry’s win. At the turn of the century some 18 years on the same two teams attracted almost three times that figure to an All-Ireland semi-final when it took two days to find winner.

It would be disingenuous not to decouple the broad economic picture from those attendances and consider them through that lens. During 1982 the country was in the throes of a decade of emigration and as we know that is a condition which usually hits people of an age where they would also be mobile and inclined to head to Croke Park without the ties and responsibilities that await them in the future. This cohort was to a fair extent out of the picture at that time whereas by 2000 the country was bursting at the seams with young people ready to brandish their disposable income. Indeed the 50+ thousand attendances at the Kerry-Armagh draw and replay in Millennium year look only middling in comparison to what was to come over the following decade. It might also be suggested that the end of the Troubles in the north kept a lid on the number who would see travelling to Dublin to a semi-final in 1982 – especially one against a Kerry team where it was not going to end well - as a priority.


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