Ireland’s Gaelic sports body generated record revenue in 2019 thanks to a rise in ticket prices and the extra cash generated by the All-Ireland football final going to a replay.

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), which governs Gaelic football and hurling, said central income was up around 15 per cent year-on-year to €73.9m. Its newly released 2019 annual report shows that gate receipts accounted for around half of that total at €36.1m, which was up around 21 per cent on 2018.

The increase was in part due to a 12-per-cent spike in ticket prices, which led to the GAA being criticised when the announcement was made a year ago.

Tickets for the All-Ireland final at Croke Park increased from €80 to €90, and a tie between Dublin and Kerry in the September match meant even greater income thanks to the subsequent replay. While replay tickets were cheaper than the original showpiece, GAA said that they accounted for almost half of the €6.5m rise in annual gate receipts.

GAA said in its annual report that increased ticket price revenues “have delivered where promised”, adding that the increase in revenue has funded coaching, facilities and larger grants to regional bodies.

The total attendances at league and championship matches increased by five per cent to 1.48 million, with the average attendance per championship match rising from 17,074 to 19,106.

GAA said it wants to ensure it builds commercial activities so as not to become overly dependent on gate receipts. Revenue from Croke Park stadium increased by 31 per cent to €10.5m while income from media rights and sponsorship revenues increased slightly to €19.9m.

“An entity with nearly 50 per cent of its revenue being generated from a single income source such as ticket revenues will need to be very attentive and adaptive,” GAA said in a statement.

“It is in this light that a strategic balance needs to be established between the increasing capital demands on the one hand and the annual investment into coaching, games development and personnel on the other.

“The Association now employs directly or funds over 350 coaching positions across the Association. Expectations need to be managed in anticipation of inevitable hiccups to our core revenue cycle.”

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