Dublin’s semi-final disadvantage despite home comfort in Super 8s

Dublin might have greater home comfort than any other side in the Super 8, but they will have one less day to prepare for their All-Ireland semi-final than their opponents should they top Group 2.

Although both of the champions’ opening games are on Saturdays, they face Roscommon in Croke Park on Sunday, August 5 at 3.30pm, whereas the Group 1 runners-up play their match the previous evening (6.30pm). Whether it is six or seven days, if as expected Dublin finish ahead of Donegal, Roscommon and Tyrone they won’t have as much time to ready themselves for their last-four game.

With two of their three Super 8 games in Croke Park, there is widespread belief Dublin enjoy an advantage but the quicker turnaround may fly in the face of that if they are table-toppers.

Dublin must face Donegal tomorrow without John Small after he unsuccessfully contested his one-match ban after he was sent off for making contact with Evan O’Carroll’s face in the Leinster final . Manager Jim Gavin questioned the decision at the time, saying the defender made “a mistimed tackle” and it was “not anything aggressive or malicious from John”.

Meanwhile, the appointments of Fergal Horgan and James McGrath for this weekend’s All-Ireland quarter-finals mean Alan Kelly is unlikely to be chosen to take charge for any of the remaining Championship fixtures.

Galway man Kelly, whose umpire made the mistake of allowing a goal that hadn’t cleared the goal-line in the Waterford-Tipperary Munster SHC Round 3 game in the Gaelic Grounds, has not been selected for any Liam MacCarthy Cup game since that match, manning the sideline for the Kilkenny-Wexford and Clare-Limerick games.

Kelly obviously can’t be involved in the Galway All-Ireland semi-final on July 28, while every All-Ireland final referee since 2009 has previously taken charge of one of those year’s quarter-finals. With Horgan having been the man in the middle for last year’s All-Ireland, McGrath appears to be in pole position to succeed him on August 19.

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