Neutrals send out clear message and opt to avoid Championship meetings

Sarsfields and Pearse Ogs on show last week.
Sarsfields and Pearse Ogs on show last week.

There appeared to be very little Championship fervour amongst the small number of supporters who attended last weekend’s fixtures.

Junior, Intermediate and Senior competitions all hosted games but the ties failed to draw the crowds normally associated with one-off Championship games and some fans are suggesting that the ‘Back Door’ system has killed the excitement normally associated with past programmes.

Although last season the Armagh County Board saw gate receipts rise considerably - a scenario mostly associated with games around and beyond the quarter-finals stage - it was noted that many neutral supporters stayed away at the weekend, blaming the rising prices and what is considered the mundane nature of the games.

With most teams now employing highly-structured defensive strategies, neutrals who have no particular interest in the result of games and normally go to be entertained are suggesting that there is very little to draw them out of their arm chairs.

Last Saturday night’s Wolfe Tones against Armagh Harps game drew very little neutral interest and a disappointing crowd witnessed the Mid-Armagh side gain a four-point win.

Very few neutral supporters attended the game in the Athletic Grounds between Sarsfields and Harps and there would appear to be almost a surreal atmosphere surrounding the Senior and Intermediate Championships this season.

Teams who competed in games last weekend will now concentrate on league football as they await the second round of games, many of which will not take place for 12 weeks. In the interim period, little will be seen of County players.

The Armagh Competitions’ Controls Committee draws for the next round of Championship fixtures (dates to be confirmed):

In the qualifiers’ group - Sarsfields v Forkhill, Granemore v Carrickcruppin, St Paul’s v Dromintee and Tir na nOg v Wolfe Tones.

In the winners’ group - Crossmaglen v Killeavey, Annaghmore v Ballymacnab, Maghery v Pearse Ogs, Armagh Harps v St Patrick’s Cullyhanna.