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Thousands of fans could attend All-Ireland finals under return-to-stadium plans

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Crowds of 20,000 could be at the All-Ireland finals this year. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Crowds of 20,000 could be at the All-Ireland finals this year. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Crowds of 20,000 could be at the All-Ireland finals this year. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Over 120,000 could watch the conclusion of the All-Ireland football and hurling championships this year.

Strong suggestions have emerged that from the beginning of August, possibly Monday 2, up to 5,000 or 25 per cent of a venue's capacity will be permitted to attend outdoor events. NPHET are expected to recommend that the lower figure apply, but there is increasing hope that at least a quarter of stadium capacity will be is use later in the summer.

With an 82,300 capacity that leaves Croke Park, where four All-Ireland hurling and football semi-finals and an All-Ireland hurling and football final will be played over four weekends in August, with a ceiling of around 20,500, provided terracing (Hill 16) is included in that provision.

Such numbers would be a welcome lift for supporters and also the much pressurised GAA finances, which have taken such a hit over the last year with no attendances at games.

However, if that date applies it would come a day too late for the Leinster and Ulster football finals, which are scheduled for August 1.

Before that crowds of up to 200 are also expected to be given the green light at venues with a 5,000-plus or more capacity, with crowds of up to 100 at smaller venues, which would allow attendances at club games again in June when competitive action recommences.

A number of pilot outdoor events for June and July that would accommodate larger crowds are due to be announced by Taoiseach Micheal Martin, which could place Croke Park back on the radar for Leinster football and hurling semi-finals, while Pairc Ui Chaoimh is thought another likely venue for some that would be suitable for such events.

One such event is understood to be the Leinster vs Dragons clash in the Rainbow Cup at the RDS on June 11, while there is also expected to be fans in attendance at Ireland's summer internationals against Japan on July 3 and USA on July 10.

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