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Paddy Andrews Questions New Football Format With Super 8s Comparison

Paddy Andrews Questions New Football Format With Super 8s Comparison
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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As the GAA season ticks towards the decisive stages of the All-Ireland championships, football fatigue seems to be setting in in many corners.

The new group stage format introduced for the 2023 All-Ireland football championship undoubtedly has potential, but the consensus seems to be that the GAA have bungled the rules somewhat by only eliminating one team from each four-team pool at the conclusion of the round robin.

The pool stages have had little intrigue or surprise associated with them, with very few teams unexpectedly in jeopardy, or unexpectedly in strong positions, given three teams will progress from each group.

Speaking on GAA GO ahead of the final round of group games, ex-Dublin footballer Paddy Andrews said that he believed the new format had inadvertently created more dead rubber games, rather than inviting more excitement into the latter stages of the championship.

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GAA GO: Paddy Andrews thinks new football format has led to more dead rubbers

With high-profile critics of the standard of football on display in recent years of the championship, the GAA introduced a major shake up of the championship format for 2023, in an effort to give the series a shot in the arm.


Four groups of four were formed after the provincial championships, made up of the provincial finalists, the 2022 Tailteann Cup winners, and the seven best-ranked sides remaining from this year's National League.


Mayo's defeat of Kerry in Killarney remains the biggest story of the round robin stage thus far. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

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It seemed like the perfect set up for a high-stakes set of games but, instead of a format which simply saw the top two in each group progress directly to the quarter-finals, the third-placed teams were given a second chance to play the group runners-up in a preliminary quarter-final round, meaning there is little in the way of potential drama as we approach the final round of games.

Paddy Andrews appeared as an analyst on GAA GO from Omagh on Saturday night, ahead of the clash between Monaghan and Donegal in Group 4 of the All-Ireland football series.

The seven-time All-Ireland winner remembered two trips to the same venue during the ultimately doomed two-year run of the "Super 8s" pool format in 2018 and 2019. Andrews remembered the 2019 game being a dead rubber, and suggested that the GAA had inadvertently caused more dead rubbers in their efforts to avoid repeat scenarios when arranging the new format:


We had a pretty good record up here with Dublin, always got a very...warm welcome from Tyrone. They were always feisty enough games.

We played two Super 8 championship games here. One, it was all on the line, it was a Saturday night, it was an incredible game, James McCarthy got a goal down at this end.

Then we had the game which was a dead rubber. That was the anomaly with that system, the Super 8s were binned after that, there were a couple of those dead rubber games.

That's what we're seeing now with the group stages, the elephant in the room. Three teams qualify out of the groups of four. I think the GAA are caught between two stools - having one or two dead rubbers, or what it feels like for the last month, that the whole system feels like a dead rubber.

No doubt the GAA will carry out a thorough review of the first dry-run of this new championship format once it has concluded.

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