There has been much talk of late about the lack of crowds at Croke Park for key championship games.

The Leinster football final, which was preceded by the Leinster senior women's decider, had an official attendance of 33,328, the lowest at GAA HQ since 1991. A week later, the hurling finale in the province - the second part of a double-header that featured a thrilling conclusion to the Joe McDonagh Cup - had a paltry enough attendance.

Galway v Kilkenny, in marked contrast to the thrills and spills of the Munster final a day later, was not a game of beauty. Those that stayed away, in fairness, did not miss much. At least Antrim and Kerry gave value of money for those who entered the Jones' Road venue early.

And then last weekend's attendance of close to 16,500 for the All-Ireland round two qualifiers. Clare, Roscommon, Mayo and Kildare were in town. Yes there was the counter attraction of Stephen Kenny's troops turning it on against the Scots on the other side of the river, but GAA's top brass would have been disappointed with Croker being only 20% full, this despite concern over accommodation and rising fuel costs.

A pick up is expected for the All-Ireland football quarter-finals, with in excess of 60,000 due at HQ for Derry-Clare & Dublin-Cork on Saturday week and Armagh-Galway & Kerry-Mayo the following day. The latter double-bill is expected to surpass 70,000.

A view of the GAA's newest trophy

Before all that we have the Tailteann Cup semi-finals on Sunday next at Croke Park. It's the only show in town in men's football this weekend. The footballers of Sligo, Cavan, Offaly and Westmeath have it all to themselves. It's live on RTÉ television and radio; local radio in the respective counties will give it maximum coverage. Those outside of Ireland can watch it on GAAGO.

The relevant figures will be digested afterwards, but the GAA's new competition has, in the main, got off to a positive start. Down forward Barry O'Hagan eventually rowed back on a comment lamenting the Tailteann Cup as "pointless" and said that they were made in the heat of the moment after the county lost to Monaghan in Ulster.

Maybe others privately turned their nose at the GAA's new creation, but it now looks as the Tailteann is here to stay. Next year the competition will see teams placed in four groups of four, before the knockout series begins, all of this after the provincials are played off across five weeks. Of course counties will have the preference of being in the race for Sam Maguire and that will make Divisions 2 and 3 of the league again all the more compelling next spring.

However, the team that raises the Tailteann Cup on 9 July will be guaranteed a spot in the 2023 All-Ireland championship. Another reason to take the new creation seriously.

Counties, in spite of their Allianz League position, may have had notions of 'upperosity' when it comes to playing a 'secondary' competition. Maybe Cavan felt that way, a county who not so long ago were Ulster champions. Six months after that triumph Mickey Graham's side were relegated to Division 4. The climb up the rankings began with promotion last spring. They then lost nothing in defeat when losing to Donegal in the Ulster quarter-final.

Cavan accounted for Down in their opening Tailteann fixture

The Tailteann Cup beckoned and Cavan have fully embraced it. Comfortable victories over Down and Fermanagh has them favourites to win the inaugural staging.

On that sense of entitlement that some may feel, former Donegal star Eamonn Magee, in his column for, wrote: "I get that sense of entitlement, I understand it.

"Jim McGuinness did a great interview on Tomás Ó Sé's podcast during the week where Jim recalled his first meeting with the Donegal squad in 2010.

"He showed the players a piece in a paper that had Donegal ranked 18th in the country, just in and around the Tailteann Cup level. It would have been an incredibly hard sell to convince the like of myself, Kevin Cass and my brother, Neil, that we should be playing in a second tier. We would have seen ourselves as above that kind of thing but, you know what, reality is a bitch. You play at the level you deserve."

Sligo players celebrate their win over Leitrim in the last round

We now have the creation of a new level, where Carlow shocked Tipperary, New York got to play on Irish soil again and we had the added drama of a penalty shootout as Sligo edged past Leitrim. Sunday at Croker will hopefully showcase its merits even more. A decent crowd present for the two games can add greater traction. You can predict a figure, but 30,000 would be more than respectable.

I've already mentioned Cavan being the favourites to win it outright, a skimpy 4/7 in the eyes of most bookies. You would hope that Sligo are competitive in the first of the semis. On paper Westmeath and Offaly should be a lot tighter. We need two good contests.

The final is scheduled for Croke Park, before the first of the All-Ireland semi-finals on Saturday, 9 July. There was the expectation that the Tailteann decider would be played on the same day as the All-Ireland final, but that prospect was ruled out early on by the GAA. The correct decision you would have to say, in that it would lose out in terms of publicity.

Finding a stand-alone day for the Tailteann Cup final may prove difficult for the fixture planners in what is now a congested fixture calendar.

Follow the Tailteann Cup semi-finals on Sunday, Sligo v Cavan (1.45pm) and Offaly v Westmeath (4pm), via our live blog on or on the RTÉ News app. Watch live coverage on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player commencing at 1.30pm with live radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1.