Dublin fans will not have to travel for neutral round. Ben Brady/INPHO
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Dublin set for Croke Park advantage again in new-look All-Ireland round robin format

Glitch seen during ‘Super 8s’ experiment is set to re-occur with the new football championship format this summer.

GAA OFFICIALS HAVE confirmed that Dublin will have the option of playing two of their three games in the All-Ireland football round robin series in Croke Park this year.

After the provincial series is decided, four groups of four teams will be determined, and each will play a home game, an away game, and a game at a ‘neutral’ venue.

However, the glitch previously seen in the ‘Super 8s’ system is set to re-occur, as Dublin will be able to nominate Croke Park as their home venue, and the Central Competitions Control Committee can set their neutral venue game there also.

It relates to the practice whereby the All-Ireland semi-finals and final are also fixed for Croke Park, but the ruling caused considerable push back from other counties during the Super 8s experiment when the first edition was staged in 2018. Back then, Dublin played Donegal and Roscommon in Croke Park.

It led to Donegal subsequently raising a motion to have Croke Park not considered as a ‘neutral venue’ that was defeated having gained just 31% of the vote at the 2019 GAA Congress.

In trying to create this new structure, a criticism of the ‘Super 8s’ was that it created a series of dead rubber games. GAA officials insisted this will not be the case this time, with three teams out of four qualifying and a series of preliminary quarter-finals established. The top teams in each group go straight through to the quarter-finals proper.

Meanwhile, while such a scenario might be seen as highly unlikely, should New York manage to beat Leitrim, and the winners of the London-Sligo quarter-final, they will be in the Connacht final and thereby qualify as one of the 16 teams in the Sam Maguire competition.

That means they would be guaranteed a home game, at Gaelic Park.

The more likely outcome is that they would not reach that stage and will go into the Tailteann Cup. They will enter at the preliminary quarter-finals stage and not have the opportunity of playing in the round robin stages.

Counties will now be bound to submit a 26-man squad for weekend games to the GAA by a Thursday morning deadline. These will then be published on a Friday afternoon. However, there is a certain amount of leeway as up to four stand-by players can be drafted in because of specific circumstances.

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