Super 8 tweaks planned to avoid potential dead rubbers

Super 8 tweaks planned to avoid potential dead rubbers

The GAA is expected to tweak the Super 8s section of the football Championship for the 2020 campaign.

A series of alterations are anticipated to address the concerns raised this year, including the amount of dead rubber Phase 3 games.

This year’s Phase 3 games between Dublin-Tyrone and Cork-Roscommon were both dead rubbers as Dublin and Tyrone had already qualified for the All-Ireland semi-finals following Phase 2.

It’s understood that a solution favoured within Croke Park mirrors the suggestion offered by Tomás Ó Sé on The Sunday Game earlier this month.

The Kerry great proposed that the winners of the Phase 1 games would then be paired off against each other in Phase 2, reducing the likelihood of meaningless Phase 3 games.

Sources have also acknowledged a growing mood for change regarding the use of Croke Park for the All-Ireland quarter-final group stage.

It’s expected that the current round of games scheduled as ‘Croke Park games’ will be changed to a round of ‘neutral venue’ games.

GAA headquarters may still be used for certain neutral games, depending on the teams involved, but it means the vast majority of Super 8s games will be played at provincial venues.

Croke Park was more than half-empty for this year’s Phase 2 double-header involving Dublin-Roscommon and Cork-Tyrone when 36,530 paid in. The following day, 48,723 watched the double-header involving Meath-Mayo and Kerry-Donegal, prompting claims that the matches lacked atmosphere and should be shifted to provincial grounds.

Moving these games from Croke Park would also address the issue around Dublin playing two of their three Super 8s games at what is perceived as their home.

Ó Sé’s suggestion about continuing with a home game first for the provincial champions, followed by Phase 2 games between the winners of those Phase 1 matches, appears to have found support.

“Everybody is giving out about the Super 8s because of what happened in the Dublin-Tyrone group,” said Ó Sé after Dublin and Tyrone played eachother with weakened teams in Phase 3. “I think simple changes (could address this).

Number one, in the Tyrone-Dublin group, they won their first two games, if you put Tyrone against Dublin in their second game, then Tyrone have to win their last game. You’re only going to have a dead rubber here and there. Therefore, Tyrone have to win their last game and they’re not putting out (weakened teams).

The Super 8s have already been tweaked from the original format in 2018 when all Phase 1 games were played at Croke Park. It was felt that this was unfair on provincial winners so for 2019 they were guaranteed a home game first, followed by the Croke Park round and then an away match. But in Donegal’s case, this meant having to make a trip to Castlebar for a Phase 3 game against Mayo, a winner-takes-all encounter which the Ulster champions lost.

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