Super 8 could mean another Dublin-Mayo final in 2018

Updated / Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017 23:50

Dublin celebrate their win over Mayo

By Peter Sweeney

Dublin and Mayo will be kept apart until next year’s All-Ireland semi-finals - if they manage to win their respective provinces.

Should they both top their respective Super 8 group they will be kept apart until the final, should they get that far, which opens up the possibility of a third straight All-Ireland decider between the same two teams - something that has only happened once before in football history.

For most of the GAA’s history, the Senior Football Championship was run on a rota with provincial champions playing in the semi-finals and the pairing changing on a three-year cycle.

That changed slightly with the introduction of the All-Ireland quarter-finals, but the system was still in use and under it next year Dublin and Mayo would have played in the semi-finals had they won their provincial titles, Leinster and Connacht respectively.

But the introduction of the Super 8, replacing the quarter-final on a three-year experimental basis from next season, has changed the cycle. The Super 8 will see two groups of four teams playing off on a round robin basis, with the top two in each making the last four.

Under the traditional system the 2018 semi-finals would have been Leinster versus Connacht and Ulster against Munster.

Next year Group 1 in the Super Eights will be made up of the Munster and Connacht champions, plus the beaten Ulster and Leinster finalists or the teams that beats them in round four of the qualifiers.

Group 2 will feature Leinster and Ulster champions plus Munster and Connacht runners-up or the qualifier teams that beats them in round four..

The winner in one group will play the second placed team in the other in the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Paddy Durcan of Mayo and Dublin's Ciaran Kilkenny

The Dubs and Mayo have met five times in recent Championship seasons, a drawn and replayed All-Ireland semi-final in 2015, a drawn and replayed final last year and this year’s epic All-Ireland final, which the Boys in Blue won by a point.

So the possibility remains alive of a third All-Ireland final between the same two teams - something that hasn’t happened since Kerry and Wexford in 1913, ’14 and ’15. Kerry won the first two and Wexford won the third part of the trilogy on their way to a first four in-a-row in football history.

Dublin will be going for a four in-a-row of Sam Maguire wins in 2018 following their back-to-back victories over Mayo and their 2015 defeat of the Kingdom.

The Dubs are already unbackable favourites to win next year’s Leinster title, having taking the Delaney Cup every year back to 2005 with the exception of 2010. Mayo are the best team in Connacht, though they have lost to Galway at the semi-final stage the past two summers.

As part of the set of changes that saw the Super 8's introduced, next year’s All-Ireland final will take place in August, with 26 August the provisional date, though this could be pushed back into September if Croke Park is required to host Pope Francis on his proposed visit to Ireland.