Super 8s: How Super Were They?

After many many years, I finally start my own thread. Do I win five pounds? Seriously though…
I think the Super 8s delivered on several fronts. Despite the inherent risks of a round robin format, the overall results were in doubt until the end and I don’t think many people would dispute that the best four are also the last four. Even our exceptional Dubs were no real exception because we did not know who we would be meeting in the semi. Still, if you want to find flies in the ointment, you can. Roscommon got beaten four times in one championship. Tyrone got beaten twice and are still in it. There has been an outcry over the perceived advantage for Dublin of playing twice in Croker (We don’t need the advantage and we don’t need the controversy). One lesson I think we can draw is that the provincials are now utterly irrelevant. Second, it seems weird to have knock-out followed by round robin followed by knock-out. I can think of at least one prominent football game that is similar but at least there is always the second chance offered by a match over two legs. So, what to do?


Super 8’s were different but its essentially Div 1 of the NFL split in two. If the provincial championships are to mean anything then that have to give the winners home advantage first round of the Super 8’s. The excitement in Group 1 3/4 teams had something to play for whereas as we dominated group 2 so only two teams had anything to play for. Would have been some excitement if all fours teams were in the shake up playing at the same time on the same day. I predict the newbridge or nowhere senario will see changes in venue selection. I’ve never has an issue with home v away alternating dates. Yeah it will mean some of our support miss some games but with live TV it isnt the end of the world.

If the provincials are done away with, than you bounce from the league to the super 8’s which is a bit pointless. Think the should get rid of the qualifiers for counties from Div 3 and Div and put them directly into secondary comp which has its own Super 8’s this give them incentive to either get into Div 2 or be winner/runner up to provincial.

Final of secondary comp should be played on Saturday with U20 final and minor and Sam Maguire should be played on the Sunday.


Best thing for me is taking games to the Provincial grounds.

Much better atmosphere for fans before and during the game…I’m thinking particularly of Dublin in Omagh.

But it is strange that you can get so many lives.

As MH said after the defeat in Omagh…normally when you get beat by Dublin in July it means your next game is in the McKenna Cup.

As for the Provincials… I’d still like to see the Ulster C’ship. Ulster says NO for me.

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Absolutely no intensity to them. Galway were shocking. Donegal lay down. Only for Clifford three of the four games this last weekend would have been dead rubbers. Virtual dead silence at some games for minutes as the ball is shoveled around from billy to jack.

Dragging out the inevitable. The standard of football is dreadful, which doesn’t help. Calling it football is a misnomer at this stage. There’s precious little footing the ball. I’ve gone completely off inter county football this year. It’s all but unwatchable.

An open draw would only make things worse. Arguably straight knock out would at least be more exciting. But managers can’t run up their expenses that way.

No format will sort out the disparity in quality.

Whatever system is in place…it’s going to be Dublin plus a few others from Div 1.

But at least the new format is bringing football around county grounds which is generating interest.

But don’t know what the answer is to improve quality overall.


Football has problems but it’s had them for years. It’s exasperated this year because two of the better teams in recent years are at low ebbs. The game requires a structural change similar to the effect the offside rule had in soccer. And no amount of altering kickouts or marks will change that. You simply won’t have a decent spectacle with 29 men in a small area of the pitch.

I think the super 8’s worked to the degree they were better than what was before but it’s still not what it could be. Knockout to round robin to knockout is odd and the big elephant now is what it done about the provincials. The super 8’s is being played too late in the season and dead rubbers before semi finals are not ideal.

Next year id give provincial winners home advantage in the first game. Take the Croke Park fixture out altogether as the crowds are unlikely to buy into it to the degree required to make a sense of occasion out of it. Keep the away fixture as it is.

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Crowd was 33,000 for Sunday’s game which is phenomenal considering it was a dead match , i wad expecting between 15k and 18k

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Think the format could be tinkered with to favour those who put effort into provincial series, at the moment there is no major advantage to winning Ulster. There are too many pointless games, a league is followed by knockout provincial a knock out qualifier for a round robin to get to a final four knock out. In reality there has always been a disparity in quality but now we just drag it out way more.

To improve the quality of football is actually easy if there is the will power, limit the hand pass. Allow one hand pass to get you out of trouble and then it must be followed by a kick pass.The advantage is that is you have to kick the ball its riskier than a hand pass so it may as well be kicked long, no point in having everyone back in the D if you have to kick it. There is more kicking and more 15v15 which is what everyone wants. In the international rules the hand pass is limited. Bringing in the mark and stopping kick outs going backward was a small start. Lots of rubbish football is being played by some players who dont have the skill level required. The systems and pattern of play make good footballing counties like Kerry, Mayo and Dublin play in a certain way to beat it but when they play each other a good game of football breaks out.

In the last 10 minutes in Omagh Tyrone played football and it showed as the game was actually interesting.

I’d also change the black card to a ten minute sin binning with no replacement as it creates 14 v 15 situation and creates space and would stop the cynical stuff.

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For me, the biggest issue is lack of quality. And so we try to compensate by looking to change rules and formats.

There needs to be more Monaghans around the provinces. I’m not sure what the answer is.

Better funding, coaching, workshops…can the GAA help?

As for Ulster - there’s no doubt its currency has dropped. Donegal would swap their Anglo Celt to be in a semi. But it’s a tradition and there’s some tasty games.

Next year, it should start with the provincial champs playing at home. I think Donegal had a point in their having to play two games on the road, before they had a home game. Ok, so they lost that game, but there should be an inherent reward for winning your province & two back to back away fixtures ain’t it.

Agree and it might actually add to the value/incentive for winning your province.

There already is plenty of value in winning your province, in that you get straight into the Super 8’s without having to take a detour through the qualifiers. But there should be a further reward, that once the Super 8’s kick off, you have the added advantage of having your first game be at home.

Some interesting ideas there. Home advantage for provincial winners in the first match could help. I still think the provincials are irrelevant though. Ulster is competitive but not exactly easy on the eye. Connacht is unpredictable but not necessarily high-quality lately and Leinster and Munster are foregone conclusions.
As for quality, I don’t really think that is the problem. We have seen some superb scoring and high fielding. In my opintion, the mark is working, as is the forward kick-out (although I think the mark is the more important change). It just can"t transform things on its own. What needs to change in my view is the style or approach. I think Liamo is right, We need some innovation that would restrict the hand-passing and/or the number of players in one half. Perhaps one would bring about the other, as Liamo suggested. If you can’t hand pass, you have to kick. Or if there is nobody near you, you have to kick.
As for the black card/sin bin etc… the black card has not cut out the cynicism but the sin bin is ‘admin-intensive’.

Personally speaking I think the black card has worked to a certain extent. there will always be cynical fouls committed when a game is down to the wire and individuals have to make that call in the heat of the moment, but in general I think it has greatly reduced the amount of runs being blocked during games. The only problem with them now is when the likes of CO’C con referees into thinking it has happened as he did with Jamsie in the drawn final a couple of years ago.
I know it’s not ideal, but the biggest flaw comes back to the interpretation by different referees of the black card, not the rule itself.
As for the ‘sin bin’ option, I think it would be a much fairer punishment. as things stand it’s no great imposition on the bigger teams, for example If Small gets a black card he is replaced by Jack Mc, how does that help the other team as it’s meant to do. Losing a player for 10 minutes throws a completely different light on the situation. Admin shouldn’t be that much of a problem, it can be used successfully in all levels of ladies football, so surely it can also be applied in the mens game.

The Super 8s did what they were designed to do - more games between better teams, with increased interest and publicity, which should be good for the promotion of the game**. Indeed the use of provincial grounds threw up a new and different aspect to the Championship and that is to be welcomed. Dublin outside of Croke Park, as an example, is a breath of fresh air for everyone.

It is unusual to have knockout followed by groups, but the nature of our games - only one Championship tier, and the presence of the provincials, means that that is a necessity - that contrasts to hurling where the provincial championships can be run off on a league basis and where they can have more bigger and better games before provincial finals are reached.

What the Super 8s cannot do is address the old elephant in the room - the inequality between counties. The Super 8s are likely to only increase the disparity, as the bigger and better teams will be playing against better opposition more often, whilst the rest of us look in, faces pressed against the glass. Counties like ours will see a greater number of players not committing due to the hopelessness of the cause and the circle gets a wee bit more vicious each year.

There was a feeling in Armagh, before we played Roscommon, that this was a match we really didn’t want to win, and boy has that been borne out by subsequent events. That defeat to Roscommon was the best thing that could have happened to us, and yet that reflects on something that is not quite right in the game.

** By promotion of the game, I mean promotion to an outside audience.



Tyrone have been training flat out this few years with Peter Donnelly on their S&C.

In the last 15 minutes in B’bofey, it was Tyrone’s fitness as much as their subs that made the difference.

There’s a camera shot from behind the Donegal goals where the defenders stopped running they were so spent.

And 20 seconds after blocking MM’s free - 3 Tyrone players were queuing up to walk the ball into the Donegal net for the second goal.

Any young lad in Armagh looking to get to that level needs to weigh up that manic dedication with their studies or work.

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While your undoubtably correct it should be said Tyrone have chosen possibly the highest attritional game plan out there. It wasn’t forced on them. Their running game is of their own making. There are other ways to play the game like letting the ball travel by kicking it which they don’t really care for.

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If they get rid of hand passing it has to be kicked and running game is blown. Don’t need the S&C that is going on and levels the playing field that the best and most skilful fielders of the ball and accurate kickers beating their opponent comes back. This levels the playing field for all.

For sure.

Tyrone’s game is based on chasing in packs…and in a game where possession is key…short hand-passing is the safest route.

But it requires manic energy levels to play like that for 70+ mins.

With exception of Lee Brennan…Tyrone don’t have forwards who can win their own ball, turn and score. Tyrone almost never try scoring beyond 20m. The ball is worked into forwards.

Despite that…I’d guess players from the top counties put in similar same amount of work at training.

Or it might have the opposite effect.

You could argue the likes of Donegal, Monaghan and Tyrone (& Galway!) were/are able to punch above their weight precisely because they’re able to compensate for a lack of skill through systems which in themselves require massive physical effort.

If it was a shoot-out in the park against Dublin…no one would stand a chance.

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