After 2017, the lay of the land in gaelic football was clear. Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone reached the All-Ireland semi-finals with ease, and although Mayo took a more scenic route, it was evident that a ‘big four’ was well established.
2018 brings with it a sea of change. The introduction of the Super 8s means that there will be a busier schedule towards the end of the season, with the top teams in the country facing off against each other.
However, considering that there was an average winning margin of over 14 points in this year’s All-Ireland quarter-finals, there are concerns as to how competitive this format may be.
Last night Tyrone GAA published their annual report, and they have aired another potential drawback of the new system, raising the possibility of teams qualifying for the semi-finals after two games, and thus one team being safely through could affect the permutations come the final round of games.
“The introduction of a ‘group stage’ for the All-Ireland quarter-final – where the eight teams
play off in two groups of four – is contrary to the objective of shortening the inter-county season.
“Part of the reasoning for this so-called ‘super-eight’ stage is to ensure that more high-quality games of football at the height of the season will take place; unfortunately this cannot be ensured – there may be some high-quality games, but there is a greater chance that there will be nothing at stake in the final games within each group, and there is a possibility that some teams may decide to play for a desired outcome, which would potentially lead to a preferred semifinal fixture.”
Considering their domination of Ulster in 2017, Tyrone will be confident of retaining their provincial title next season and reaching the Super 8s.
They’ve been handed a tricky championship opener against Monaghan, with the winner playing Armagh or Fermanagh in the semi-final.
Make sure to check out the latest episode of The 16th Man podcast, where we hear from Con O’Callaghan following Cuala’s Leinster title victory.