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Explained: The GAA's New All-Ireland Football Championship Format

Explained: The GAA's New All-Ireland Football Championship Format
By PJ Browne Updated
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2023 sees the GAA introduce the latest major change to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

The provincial championships will be played off as usual, this year between April 8th and May 14th. As was the case last year, teams will then compete for the top tier Sam Maguire Cup and the second tier Tailteann Cup.

How does the new GAA All-Ireland SFC work?

This year, a 16-team group stage has been introduced for the counties competing for Sam Maguire. That will be followed by preliminary quarter-finals, quarter-finals, semi-finals and then the final.

Who qualifies for the Sam Maguire Cup?

- The eight provincial finalists
- The previous year's Tailteann Cup winners (this year Westmeath)
- The next seven best-placed teams at the conclusion of the Allianz Football Leagues.
- If Westmeath were to reach the Leinster final, then it would be the next eight best-placed in the league rankings.

The GAA has confirmed that if New York reach the Connacht final, then they would enter the All-Ireland series and have a home game at Gaelic Park.

2 April 2023; Dublin captain James McCarthy leaves the pitch with the cup after winning the Allianz GAA Football League Division 2 Final match between Dublin and Derry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

What are the GAA league rankings?

1. Mayo
2. Galway
3. Roscommon
4. Tyrone
5. Kerry
6. Monaghan
7. Dublin
8. Derry
9. Armagh
10. Donegal
11. Louth
12. Cork
13. Kildare
14. Meath
15. Cavan
16. Fermanagh
17. Clare
18. Limerick
19. Down
20. Westmeath
21. Offaly
22. Antrim
23. Sligo
24. Wicklow
25. Longford
26. Tipperary
27. Laois
28. Wexford
29. Leitrim
30. Carlow
31. Waterford
32. London

[See Also: GAA To Announce 26-Man Matchday Championship Panels On Fridays]

Rankings are decided after promotions and relegations between the divisions have been applied. League final winners are ranked higher than the team they beat in their divisional decider.

29 May 2022; Seán Kelly of Galway lifting the cup after the Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Roscommon at Pearse Stadium in Galway. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

How does the All-Ireland SFC group stage work?


Teams will be drawn into four seeded groups of four teams each. Those who have played each other in their provincial finals cannot be drawn in the same group, though counties who played each other earlier in the provincial championship can be drawn together.

The draw will take place on May 2nd on GAA GO, after the provincial semi-finals, but before the finals.


All-Ireland SFC group stage seedings

Seed 1 – Provincial champions
Seed 2 – Provincial runners-up
Seed 3 – The next four ranked by league status
Seed 4 – Westmeath (if they do not qualify for the Leinster final) and the next three ranked by league status.

9 July 2022; Luke Loughlin of Westmeath GAA celebrates his side's second goal, scored by teammate Kieran Martin, 18, during the Tailteann Cup Final match between Cavan and Westmeath at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Teams will play three games in the group stage, one at home, one away, and one at a neutral venue.

Round 1: Seed 1 v Seed 3, Seed 2 v Seed 4 (20/21 May and 27/28 May)
Round 2: Seed 3 v Seed 2, Seed 4 v Seed 1 (3/4 June)
Round 3: Seed 1 v Seed 2, Seed 3 v Seed 4 (17/18 June)

[See Also: Joe Canning Baffled By One Of GAA's 'Maddest Decisions']

What happens next?

The first-placed team in each group goes straight through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals, while the second and third-placed teams will play in the preliminary quarter-finals.


24 July 2022; Kerry manager Jack O'Connor and his squad celebrate with the Sam Maguire trophy after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Second-placed teams will get home advantage in the preliminary quarter-finals, which will be played June 24/25. The All-Ireland quarter-finals, which will be played at neutral venues, will take place on July 1/2.


The All-Ireland semi-finals will be played on July 15/16 and the All-Ireland final on July 30. Preliminary quarter-finals, quarter-finals, and semi-finals will be played under winner-on-the-day rules.

See Also: 26-Man Matchday Championship Panels To Be Announced On Fridays

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