OVER the past few days much has been said and written about the events of last weekend in the All-Ireland football championship.
This column usually steers clear of matters football, but just on the odd occasion we stray off the beaten track.
The topic for discussion is the Super 8s and how they have impacted on the footballing landscape.
Over the past number of years, the powers that be in Croke Park have not been slow in coming up with fresh innovations in trying to enhance the games and fair play to them for that.
We live in a world of change and that’s the way it will continue to be. The introduction of the round-robin format in the Munster and Leinster SHCs has been a resounding success for the past two years, even if the Munster champions subsequently failed to impact thereafter in the All-Ireland.
However, could the same be said for the Super 8s in football?
The answer has to be an emphatic no, particularly this season and what transpired last weekend.
The final games in that series were meant to be do-or-die efforts, everything on the line for the majority of the teams.
Unfortunately, however, of the four games that were played out only one had a proper meaning, the Castlebar showdown between Mayo and Donegal which was watched by 27,000 plus.
The Kerry and Meath game had relevance because of the fact that Kerry needed a victory, something that they were always going to get because Meath had nothing but pride to play for.
To be fair, they did give a decent enough account of themselves, but, psychologically, it’s very difficult when you know your season is over at the final whistle.
The Dublin and Tyrone clash in Omagh was a different matter entirely. Both sides were 100% guaranteed their place in the semi-finals with a decent enough chance of meeting again in the final.
So, effectively, this was no more than a glorified challenge game with Tyrone not containing one first-choice player in their starting 15.
When this new initiative was introduced it was meant to be ground-breaking, the eight best teams in the country going hell for leather for a place in the last four.
Firstly, could you say that the last eight this season were the eight best teams in the country?
I think we all know the answer to that The one positive thing that did come out of it was that you now have the country’s four best teams playing over the weekend, Dublin and Mayo will be a full house while there will be the usual edge to the Kerry and Tyrone encounter.
Of course, the quick turnaround, just six and seven days from the final Super 8 eight games to the semi-finals is too short a period too and all four participants should have a fortnight to prepare.
Then again, where Tyrone are concerned, it does not matter because the team that played last Sunday won’t be playing this weekend