GAA Football

Derby clash set to boost 2017 Ulster SFC attendance figures

Sunday's Derry v Tyrone clash at Celtic Park attracted a crowd of 10,017, around 2,000 less than the corresponding fixture last season Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Cahair O'Kane

ULSTER Council are anticipating a crowd close to capacity for Sunday’s Ulster Championship derby between Down and Armagh.

Páirc Esler, which has a capacity of 20,000, will definitely see the province’s biggest crowd of the summer so far.

The main stand at the Newry venue has sold out and with clubs due to return any unsold tickets this morning, indications are that while the game won’t sell out in advance, it should be close to capacity.

That will come as a welcome boost to the provincial body after disappointing attendance figures at the season’s opening three games.

The preliminary round tie between Monaghan and Fermanagh attracted just 7,743 supporters at Clones – compared to the 9,124 that were in Brewster Park last year when Fermanagh met Antrim at the same stage.

Derry’s poor season contributed to a dip in the crowd for their meeting with rivals Tyrone, with 10,017 at Celtic Park on Sunday down almost 2,000 from last year’s attendance of 12,011.

Donegal’s quarter-final with Antrim also had an unusually small crowd in Ballybofey, with 10,083 coming through the turnstiles at MacCumhaill Park.

The Tír Chonaill side’s quarter-final with Fermanagh last year attracted 15,236.

In all, compared to the opening three games in last year’s Championship – which included the 15,236 at Cavan v Armagh – crowds are down over a quarter from 36,371 to 27,843.

Those figures should recover somewhat over the next few weeks, though, with the Páirc Esler derby followed by another derby between Cavan and Monaghan at Breffni Park.

Donegal and Tyrone are also lined up to meet in the first semi-final in just under three weeks’ time. Their Ulster final clash in Clones last year drew a crowd of 33,433 and there is expected to be a high level of interest in the meeting of two of the frontrunners.

Last year’s attendances

Fermanagh v Antrim         9,124

Derry v Tyrone                12,011

Cavan v Armagh             15,236

Monaghan v Down         12,782

Donegal v Fermanagh    15,908

Tyrone v Cavan              19,141

Monaghan v Donegal     16,287

Tyrone v Cavan (R)        20,223

Monaghan v Donegal (R) 17,174

Tyrone v Donegal          33,433

Total                            171,319

Total after 3 games:    36,371

This year’s attendances so far

Monaghan v Fermanagh 7,743

Donegal v Antrim           10,083

Derry v Tyrone               10,017

Total after 3 games      27,843

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