What’s home advantage worth on the scoreboard?
Or, if the game is played at a neutral venue, what’s outnumbering the opposition in the stands by 10-1 worth?
Surely at least 3 or 4 points.
There’s no doubt referees are (subconsciously) influenced by the crowd.
A German soccer study involved referees watching matches on TV – some with the sound muted. Those that couldn’t hear the roars of the crowd disagreed with the “home” decisions far more than the others.
And the players are heavily influenced by the sounds from the stands too.
Especially late in a game.
Five minutes to go on Saturday evening at Semple. All square between Wexford and Galway.
Players reaching deep on reserves – looking for that little extra to bring some daylight between the two counties.
Several thousand Wexford fans urging their boys on – cheering every hook . . . every catch . . . every solo run . . . every free awarded . . . every score. A 16th player.
Galway fans doing the same, of course, for their side.
The problem was, they numbered in the dozens, hundreds maybe.
A small, loyal band, but hopelessly outnumbered.
Not for the first time, the Galway players were badly let down by their absent hurling “supporters”.
When they needed them, they were sitting at home.
NOTHING BEATS BEING THERE
This weekend broke a recent tradition, with the All-Ireland senior camogie semi-finals not being played together.
Kilkenny gained some revenge for last year’s final defeat by beating Galway yesterday in Limerick, and Wexford’s meeting with Cork was a curtain-raiser to the two All-Ireland under-21 hurling semi-finals in Thurles.
There’s been a lot of talk (much of it rubbish) recently about the lack of support for women’s sports, but, to be fair, many supporters were in situ for the first of Saturday’s triple headers, which involved spending more than five hours in the stadium.
There is a question, however, as to whether the Wexford-Cork game should have been a curtain-raiser to men’s games. Surely an All-Ireland senior semi-final deserves a prime spot on the calendar – and on the day.
Over the past few years, the camogie doubler-headers would have attracted up to 5,000 spectators on their own, and the semi-finals always attract a very young audience – it’s alway great to see so many girls (and boys) cheering (no, screaming) for their county’s camogie team.
And so it's a pity there were no live television pictures showing a cracking finish to both semi-finals, with Wexford's Una Leacy grabbing a late goal to steal a draw in the first game, and Kilkenny finally putting some daylight between themselves and the reigning champions late in the tie at the Gaelic Grounds.
There are some promising women’s matches set for the next month – so maybe it’s time to stop writing about women’s sports on twitter, and actually attend one.
Next Saturday, on the same day as the camogie replay, Dublin and Galway will meet in the first of the women’s senior football semi-finals.The second semi-final, between Armagh and Cork, takes place the following weekend.
Then, it’s on to the finals – which, like the men’s deciders, are much more than just sporting events.
For all the talk about the need to support women’s sports, there is nothing like actually getting up off the couch and going to a game.
So do it.
Emlyn Mulligan @emlynmulligan
I'd happily play an All Ireland Semi Final in Limerick. I'd happily play it out in my back garden.
Mike Quirke @Mike_Quirke
If I had a euro for every fickle supporter who told me Donaghy was finished... He sure didn't look like he was on the scrap heap yesterday.
Ronan O'Gara @RonanOGara10
The old dog for the hard road .Well done Donaghy...
Philip Jordan @PhilipJordan7
Quit crying about the replay being in Limerick. We're lucky to have another great game to look forward to. Couldn't care less where it is
Cora Staunton @duckie15
Well done today @CILL14N @Alan_Dillon @AIDOXI @RobHennelly @MayoGAA super 2nd half performance and great leadership shown #mayoabu
Tadhg Kennelly @TadhgKennelly
Kerry people have faith in these young men, 2 many thought we would lose. Believe & confidence in young men can make them feel 10 foot tall
Darran O'Sullivan @Darransull86
1st championship game missed since I made my debut in '05... Harder on the sideline then the pitch I think! Hated every minute!