Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In yesterdays (27/06/06) Irish Independent GAA journalist Martin Breheny puts forward an argument that last weekend, attendance wise, and thus in terms of popularity, the GAA took on the World Cup and won. To illustrate his point Breheny states that the attendance figure in the Dublin-Laois Lenister Football semi final was 67,790, this he quite correctly states was 1,790 more than attended the second round World Cup clash between Germany-Sweden which took place in Munich the same day. Next Breheny quotes attendance figures for the clash of Cork and Tipperary in the Munster hurling final in Thurles. According to his argument 1,286 more people attended the match in Thurles than attended the England-Ecuador game in Stuttgart. Now lets examine the facts.

Both World Cup games which took place over the weekend were sold out to capacity crowds of 66,000 and 52,000 in Munich and Stuttgart respectively, with tens of thousands supporters outside each stadium with cash in hand crying out for tickets but unable to purchase same, the reason being that the stadiums in both Munch and Stuttgart were full to capacity. Does Martin Breheny honesty mean to tell us that if the capacity of both stadiums was raised by 20,0000 that supporters couldn't be persuaded to come in off the streets of Munich and Stuttgart and attend the matches?

Incredibly Breheny also states that the 67,790 that attended the Dublin-Laois match was possibly the largest crowd in the World that attended a sports fixture that weekend. Given the fact that most major field games, which are played on a global basis, are in their close season means the GAA didn't really have much competition. That Martin Breheny seems to have overlooked this fact says an awful lot. Quite a pathetic and risible line of argument you have there Mr. Breheny.

Overall, Martin Breheny, fine sports journalist that he is, makes a rather fatuous argument. The only reason that Croke Park had 1,790 people more in attendance than were at the match in Munich can be put in concrete terms in that Croke Park's capacity is greater than the Allianz Arena in Munich. If he thinks that a World Cup match in Germany between Germany and any other opposition couldn't fill any stadium with a capacity in excess of 80,000 plus then Martin Breheny is living in cloud cuckoo land.

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