GAA attendances are down, but only slightly, according to the latest figures released by the GAA.

It was a challenging sporting season for the GAA. The soccer World Cup in South Africa and a whole host of other summer sporting events threatened to take the GAA’s crowds away from them, yet despite this attendance at hurling and football matches were both fairly solid.

Overall figures for 2010 to date are 959,367, compared to around 980,000 last year, a very slight decrease, and attributable in part to this year’s top Ulster matches not being included in the count.

The millionth spectator is expected to attend this year’s championship at Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final double bill featuring Kerry-Down and Tyrone-Dublin - there is no prize.

“We are pleased to be holding our own in what is a difficult year,” said the Association’s communication manager,attesting to the fact that sports is a difficult sector to be in during a recession, “The World Cup didn’t have a major impact but we certainly lost attendances in Ulster where a couple of fixtures had to be scheduled for Saturday evening, to suit television requirements.”

There was concern from the public about attendance at GAA matches. This year’s Munster hurling final was notably poorly attended, a fact which wasn’t lost on the media who reported that figures wree down. Yet that match’s poor turnout now seems to be linked to GAA supporters’ fierce preference for Sunday rather than Saturday fixtures.

The bottom line isn’t as healthy, though. The GAA is on track for a fourth consecutive year of decreasing revenue inbound unless crowd figures seriously pick up.

A number of special ticket packages have been made available for upcoming matches.

“The Combo Package” covers entry for the quarter-final and corresponding semi-final for €65 (adults) €10 (16 and under) (Section 308 or 708 for all matches).

“Football Feast” for the All-Ireland quarter-finals and semi-finals for €99 for adults and €20 for 16 and under (Section 308).

“The Dual Package” includes all the football and hurling quarter and semi-finals for just €150 for adults and €30 for 16s and under (Section 308 for all matches).