SUNDAY’S replay of the senior hurling final could be the financial game changer for Kilkenny County Board this year.
With returns from local championship games so far down considerably on last year’s strong overall receipts of €208,486, the replay between James Stephens and Ballyhale Shamrocks will provide a badly needed boost to the coffers.
Bad weather and the choking recession combined to deliver a double whammy to the ’Board’s funds, so the unexpected €50,000 plus windfall from Sunday’s senior and minor replays could not have come at a better time after what has been another demanding year financially.
Returns from the semi-finals were way down on last year, when the ‘gates’ for the Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) versus Carrickshock and Shamrocks against O’Loughlin Gaels were a healthy €52,225.
Money making time
And Sunday’s ‘gate’ took a hit in excess of €30,000 when fans stayed away in their thousands because of the awful weather.
Gate receipts make up the vast bulk of the County Board’s finances. Kilkenny are among the very few counties who allow clubs keep all returns from local league matches, so championship time is the big money making time for the Executive.
Last year was exceptional and all three major hurling finals, senior, intermediate and junior, were played in the best of weather and crowds turned out in their thousands for them.
There was also the feel good factor following the bid for the historic All-Ireland five in-a-row, but the adverse weather has apparently dampened enthusiasm this time round.
Sunday’s attendance of 6,974 in Nowlan Park was one of the smallest in years for the senior final.
If the weather doesn’t improve, that figure would be expected to fall again because replays generally attract smaller crowds than the original fixture.
Over 10,000 people packed Nowlan Park for last year’s decider between O’Loughlin Gaels and Carrickshock, which produced massive returns of over €90,000. There is no chance of that figure being ecliplsed this time.
Meanwhile, both clubs are expected to be able to pick from full squads for Sunday’s re-match. Shamrocks pair Henry Shefflin (shoulder) and Michael Fennelly (knee) are nursing minor knocks, but they will be okay. ’Stephens have reported no additional injury problems, but they will be without young Diarmuid Cody (thumb injury), who has been sidelined for weeks.
The action will commence at 12.45pm just in case extra-time is needed in either replay. The senior final has been timed for 2.30pm.