Thursday 19 July 2018

Super 8s explained: Dublin and Kerry have first first fixtures confirmed for bumper Croke Park weekend

24 June 2018; Dublin captain Jonny Cooper lifts the cup following the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Laois at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
24 June 2018; Dublin captain Jonny Cooper lifts the cup following the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final match between Dublin and Laois at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Newly crowned Leinster champions Dublin begin their quest for a fourth All-Ireland title in-a-row with a Croke Park date in mid-July against newly crowned Ulster kingspins Donegal.

On a bumper weekend for football at headquarters on July 14-15, Munster title holders Kerry will face Connacht champions Galway as well.

There will also be two other games in Croke Park in Round 1 of the new Super 8s competition that weekend.

There are now 16 teams left in the hunt for the 2018 Sam Maguire but only the new provincial winners - Dublin, Kerry, Galway and Donegal - are guaranteed a place in the Super 8s.

The eight teams who have come through the back door - Armagh, Cavan, Clare, Kildare, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan and Tyrone - will go into the hat for tomorrow morning's eagerly awaited Round 3 qualifier draw on RTE Radio's Morning Ireland programme at 8.30am.

Tyrone and Monaghan, who have already met in the Ulster series, cannot be drawn to meet each other while Armagh and Leitrim – who played in Division 3 and 4 of the league respectively this season - will have home advantage if they are drawn against any of the other six teams.

Otherwise, the first team out of the hat will have home advantage in the ties which will be played next Saturday. Of course, all eyes will be on the fate of the three big guns, Mayo, Monaghan and Tyrone.

The four winners in Round 3 will then play the four beaten provincial finalists, Laois, Cork, Roscommon and Fermanagh in Round 4 of the qualifiers for a place in the Super 8s.

The eight counties who qualify for this phase of the All-Ireland series will be split into two groups of four as follows:

Group 1

Kerry, Galway, Fermanagh (or the team that beat them in Round 4), Laois (or the team that beat them in R4)

Group 2

Dublin, Donegal, Cork (or the team that beats them in R4), Roscommon (or the team that beats them in R4).

Each county is guaranteed three games: one at home; one in Croke Park and one away.

By virtue of the fact that Croke Park is the de facto home ground for Dublin, they will play two games at Croke Park.

Their second match at headquarters will be on the August bank holiday weekend with Killarney, Salthill and Ballybofey also hosting games that weekend.

The top two teams in each group qualify for the All-Ireland semi-finals in which there will be a crossover draw: Group 1 winners v Group 2 runners-up and Group 2 winners v Group 1 runners-up.

The usual rules will apply if teams finish level on points in the group stages. In the event of more than team finishing level, scoring difference will determine which team advances.  Where two teams finish level, the result of their game will determine who advances. If the game was a draw, scoring difference will be used.

The complete fixture list is:

Phase 1

Venue: Croke Park

Dates: Saturday, July 14/Sunday July 15:

Group 1: Kerry v Galway

Fermanagh/R4 winner v Laois /R4 winner

Group 2: Dublin v Donegal,

Cork /R4 winner v Roscommon/R 4 winner.

Phase 2

Venues: (Beaten Provincial finalists or team that beats them in Round 4 are at home)

Dates: Saturday July 21/Sunday July 22

Group 1

Fermanagh/R4 winner v Galway

Laois/R4 winner v Kerry

Group 2

Roscommon/R4 winner v Donegal

Cork/R4 winner v Dublin

Phase 3

Venues: Provincial Champions have home advantage

Dates: Saturday August 4, Sunday August 5, Monday August 6 (Bank holiday weekend)

Group 1

Kerry v Fermanagh/R4 winner

Galway v Laois/R4 winner

Group 2

Dublin v Roscommon/R4 winner

Donegal v Cork/R4 winner

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