All-Ireland SFC: Fans fed up with foregone conclusions says Chrissy McKaigue

Empty croke park
Less than half the seats in Croke Park were occupied for Sunday's semi-final

The widening gap between the top counties in Gaelic football and the rest is causing attendances to drop, says Derry footballer Chrissy McKaigue.

Kerry's win over Tyrone on Sunday was somewhat overshadowed by the number of empty seats around Croke Park.

Less than half the seats were occupied at GAA headquarters as the Kingdom set-up an All-Ireland final against Dublin.

"The All-Ireland semi-final has yielded the attendance of 33,848, for me alarm bells are ringing," said McKaigue.

Dublin, chasing a fifth consecutive Championship title, are enjoying a period of total domination as illustrated by their 10-point semi-final win over Mayo on Saturday.

"I saw a clip on social media from AIG of the All Blacks wishing Dublin all the best. You've got to really think about that," said McKaigue, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's The Championship.

"You have AIG sponsoring Dublin and there are local businesses sponsoring other county teams.

"That just reflects the divide in terms of resources and what the county teams actually have in terms of how they prepare."

"I think that is starting to seep down to the general public of the GAA, who are starting to say 'why would I bother following the county game anymore when most of the games are foregone conclusions?',"

"As a player that is still playing at inter-county level, it's hard to argue with that mindset."

In 2018, GAA gate receipts were down by 14% as cash generated by football championship attendances dropped by nearly a quarter in the first year of the Super 8s quarter-final format.

The Super 8s, now two years into a three-year trial, has been met with mixed reviews with Tyrone and Dublin's dead rubber in the final round of fixtures leading to some questioning if a game of such little consequence should be played so late in the championship season.

"I don't think it's too much to ask as Gaels around the county that you just want the healthiest competition," said McKaigue.

"The top four or five teams are starting to develop at a rate that is taking them away from the chasing pack.

"It's an alarming rate and I would worry about that because the competition hinges on competitive games."