Derby clash set to boost 2017 Ulster SFC attendance figures
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 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