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Pat Spillane Wary Of Kerry's All-Ireland Chances After Mayo Defeat

Pat Spillane Wary Of Kerry's All-Ireland Chances After Mayo Defeat
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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Kerry's task to retain their All-Ireland crown got that little bit harder last weekend, with a surprise defeat to Mayo at home in the pool phase of the championship.

It was the first time that Kerry had lost a championship game in Killarney since 1995, and marked the culmination of a slow start to the championship summer from Jack O'Connor's men.

Though they won the Munster championship with ease, they have not been firing on all cylinders, and now need Mayo to slip up if they are to have any hope of topping their group and gaining automatic progression to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Eight-time Sam Maguire winner Pat Spillane spoke to Balls.ie this week to promote his new podcast 'The Game On Sunday' with Michael Lyster and Tomás Mulcahy, and said that he felt Kerry's defeat to Mayo had put them in a difficult situation.

Pat Spillane on incredibly open football championship

The launch of the new 'Game on Sunday' podcast with messrs Lyster, Spillane, and Mulcahy was an exciting one for GAA fans on Wednesday afternoon, and we spoke to Pat Spillane to mark the launch of the weekly show.

Pat Spillane Michael Lyster Tomas Mulcahy

16 May 2023; Michael Lyster and guests former Kerry footballer Pat Spillane and former Cork hurler Tomas Mulcahy at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Kerry legend Spillane is far from keen on what he says is an "absurd" new format for the football championship, calling it a "joke" and saying that there are too many games involving too many teams in too short a period of time.

The group stage format is one that will no doubt need some tweaking for 2024, with the preliminary quarter-finals in particular garnering a mixed response from football fans. The format sees the group runners-up and third-placed finishers playing off for the final four spots in the Sam Maguire quarter-finals, meaning that the pool stages will see 24 games to eliminate just four teams.


It seems like an unnecessary overcomplication of the format, but there is one saving grace for the preliminary quarter-finals, which Pat Spillane thinks was exhibited by Kerry's defeat to Mayo in Fitzgerald Stadium.


Spillane says that Kerry have now put themselves in a difficult position, in which they will now have to play an additional game - potentially against a strong opponent - in order to progress to the last eight, in a situation which they had hoped to avoid:

Kerry will have been disappointed.

Jack [O'Connor] made no secret of the fact that he wanted to go the direct route. Now, almost certainly, once they win that one match or two, they'll be going in through the preliminary route. They will be going in the preliminary route, I can't see Mayo being beaten.

If they come second, they've home advantage - that's fine. But that means that Mayo will have a week's rest.

Those teams playing in the preliminary quarter-final will then the following week play the quarter-final, and the following week play the semi-final. Ha! I'll tell you this, if I was a manager, that's tough going.

If Kerry are second and have a home match in Killarney, they've a home match against say Tyrone or Armagh. That's not a gimme.

I'm not writing off Kerry, absolutely not writing off Kerry, but their task got that little bit more difficult since last Saturday.

It will now be difficult for Kerry, with their only hope of topping the group now lying with a Mayo slip-up - unlikely to happen in a group featuring Cork and Louth.

In truth, it is very difficult to predict who will come out on top in this year's All-Ireland football championship, with the years of Dublin dominance over and no one stand out team appearing to fill the void.


Spillane told us that he believes this is the most open championship since 2010, and that as many as seven counties are in with a genuine chance of winning Sam Maguire:

This is the most open championship that I can remember...maybe somebody said since 2010.

In 2010 the four provincial winners got beaten, and Cork played Down in the final.

Obviously Dublin dominated since then, but I think it's the most open championship. I could pick out about seven counties that I feel have a chance. There's no outstanding team, none at all.

Kerry, Dublin, Derry, I could find flaws in every one of the leading contenders. That's what probably makes this year's championship so intriguing and so open. There are, I believe, seven in with a chance.

Kerry, Dublin, Derry, Mayo, Armagh, Tyrone, Galway...take your pick, in one of the most open All-Ireland football championships in recent memory.

Pat Spillane spoke to Balls.ie to promote the launch of the new 'Game on Sunday' podcast alongside Michael Lyster and Tomás Mulcahy. You can sign up and stream episode one of the podcast here.

SEE ALSO: 'We Can Always Say 'Kerry Had To Bring A Tyrone Man Down''



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