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Ciarán Whelan Suggests Two Tweaks To Improve Super 8s

Ciarán Whelan Suggests Two Tweaks To Improve Super 8s

Ciarán Whelan has suggested two possible tweaks which could improve the Super 8s stage of the football championship.

Over the weekend, just over 85,000 attended Croke Park to watch all eight teams play. It was a poor turnout with the atmosphere on Saturday for the double header between Cork and Tyrone and Dublin and Roscommon being especially flat.

"Over the last two years, we've learned that the neutral games in Croke Park aren't working," said the former Dublin footballer on The Sunday Game.

Whelan believes that this weekend's round of games should all be played in provincial grounds around the country, encouraging a better atmosphere and also ending the noise regarding Dublin's two games at Croke Park.

I would expect some managers probably want to get up there and get a game in Croke Park, to get into that environment if they're getting to a semi-final.

But in terms of an atmosphere, I think it may be better to have them in provincial grounds.

We've seen great examples of teams going on the road, we saw it in Killarney last week. I would think there's a lesson in that.

It would also get away from this thing that Dublin have two games in Croke Park. If they just had the one, it would be a simple solution.

"You probably would fancy your chances [against Dublin] better outside of Croke Park than inside Croke Park," said Monaghan footballer Conor McManus on The Sunday Game Live earlier in the day.

"This is Dublin's home and they are so used to it. It's easier for Dublin here, there's no point in saying [otherwise]."

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The qualifiers from Group 2 (Dublin and Tyrone) already decided, the final round of games in the group have the whiff of being dead rubbers and possibly shadow boxing in the case of Tyrone vs Dublin.

Whelan suggested that the Super 8 become the Super 10, with three sides progressing from each group as happens in the Leinster and Munster Hurling Championships.

I like the concept but I wonder if we should expand it to two groups of five with three qualifying because it would just give teams an incentive to finish on top of the group and it would keep teams in it right until the very end.

The hurling has worked well with five teams and there's an incentive. We are in a situation with the other group where we are in a dead rubber situation coming into the last game.

Former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice was also on last night's Sunday Game. He likes the Super 8 concept apart from the requirement of teams to play on consecutive weekends and, in the case of one side, the necessity to play an All-Ireland semi-final just six days on from their final Super 8 game.

"Playing two weekends in a row for amateur players, all of those lads will be working tomorrow [Monday] morning trying to recover, trying to get turned around again for next week," said Fitzmaurice.

"I think it's severe.

"Going from the last Super 8 game to an All-Ireland semi-final and having a six-day turnaround for one of the teams, it's a very short turnaround to get ready for an All-Ireland semi-final."

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

See Also: Here Are The Super 8s Permutations Heading Into The Final Games

PJ Browne
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