Sell-outs and near capacity grounds are not something you would associate with League of Ireland over the last few decades but this season has seen a number of games hit that mark. For many of the other clubs, they are hitting early season attendances that would rank very highly in any previous season.
There is usually a downturn after the initial excitement of a new season but this year many of the clubs have registered increased gates and they have not fallen off as dramatically as before.
St. Patrick’s Athletic started the season with an attendance 561 better than their best in 2018. Their next game came on a Monday and whilst there was a drop off, the clash against Finn Harps was still strong for both the day and the opposition.
In Gameweek 5, the Saints registered an attendance of 4,389 for the visit of Shamrock Rovers. Rovers may have won 1-0 on the night but the crowd in Inchicore was huge compared to previous seasons.
The extratime.ie attendance archives are mostly complete for the last decade for St Patrick’s Athletic with some gaps and estimates, so with a margin of error included, the last time we recorded a larger home crowd for the Saints was an FAI Cup semi-final in 2008 against Derry City which saw 4,879 in Richmond Park.
Shamrock Rovers also continue their record of being involved in the best attended game every week so far this season.
Bohemians’ 1-1 draw with Derry City was the second best attended game with 2,940 present. Bohemians’ first three games this season total more than their first four home games last season. Their season average so far is 3,149, over 1,000 better than in 2018. To put Bohs’ early season crowd levels into perspective, no club has had an end-of-season average greater than 3,000 bar Cork City in the last three seasons.
Dundalk’s 4-0 win over Waterford was watched by 2,832 in Oriel Park. The league champions are extremely constant with their crowds. Their average crowd in 2016 was 2,738, in 2017 it was 2,705 and in 2018 it was 2,801. At present they are averaging 2,872 this season.
Sligo Rovers have kept their home crowd over 2,000 for the third game running. 2,103 watched the Bit O’Red register a 1-0 win over UCD. The big test for Sligo will be whether they can keep that figure above 2,000 and avoid the 2018 trend where the club mostly settled into the mid to high 1,000’s.
The final Premier Division game was the seven goal thriller in Donegal. Finn Harps lost the match in front of a crowd of 1,215. Harps average this season is 1,708 which is exactly 1,000 more than their First Division average of 708 last season. They averaged 1,269 the last time their were in the Premier (2017) so they are currently well up compared to that.
Moving into the First Division, Galway United topped the pile as 1,216 watched as they went down 1-0 to Bray Wanderers. While that’s a big drop from the 2,174 on the opening night, it is still better than every game from last season.
Athlone Town recorded 657 for the visit of Shelbourne which is quite a dramatic increase on last season. It took Athlone five games to get more than 657 into their home ground in 2018.
Cabinteely’s home game crowd was an estimated attendance of 450 so we won’t talk much about that until we get the actual figure. The final two games, Limerick 0-0 Drogheda United and Cobh 6-1 Wexford drew 420 and 270 respectively.
Overall the Gameweek saw 16,492 in attendance which brings the season total after 41 games to 85,885 or 2,095 per game. At this stage last season, only 35 games were played with a total crowd of 66,739 and an average of 1,907.
Another Gameweek down and another strong and mostly positive attendance report. As we head into the St Patrick’s Day Bank Holiday weekend, you have nine games on Friday and one on Saturday to pick from!
PREMIER DIV GAMEWEEK 5 ATTENDANCE: 16,492 (Up 3,554 on G4)
PREMIER DIV AVERAGE GAMEWEEK 5 ATTENDANCE: 2,696
FIRST DIV GAMEWEEK 3 ATTENDANCE: 3,013 (Down 470 on G2)
FIRST DIV AVERAGE GAMEWEEK 3 ATTENDANCE: 603
LARGEST CROWD OF THE WEEK: St Patrick’s Athletic 0-1 Shamrock Rovers – 4,389