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We've been shown old provincial model can still be Super

By Declan Bogue

Do you ever wonder why the 'Super-8s' (like it or not, the quarter-final stage of two mini-leagues of four beginning in next year's All-Ireland Football Championship will forever be known as this) did not receive too much criticism or nit-picking?

The answer comes in two parts. For journalists, columnists and commentators, there will be far more games among teams at the top end of the scale. That gives them a whole lot more to get their teeth into.

And secondly, because it's a damn fine idea. Brave, surely, but then so was the introduction of the qualifier series at the time and we don't see too many credible arguments against it now.

In time, the Super-8s will take over the mantle of the August Bank Holiday weekend when, for many, the real race for the All-Ireland starts.

The thought struck over the weekend that - even allowing for the safeguarding by the GAA that no more competition structures should be considered for another few years - we just might have the best possible system in place, short of the most simple and effective way of dividing the provinces into four equal sections of eight teams.

That's because the provincial tournaments this year - bar the awful Munster football final - have been brilliant in their own way.

Last weekend was the most special couple of days.

To see Kevin McStay, truly one of the good guys in the GAA, winning a Connacht title with Roscommon against all the odds - along with the good wishes of some of his own support - was fantastic.

Likewise, so was the re-emergence of Cork as serious contenders in the hurling again, showing immense maturity despite their tender years, which was heartening.

In the Ulster final this Sunday, Clones will be packed with a mobilised Down support, giddy at the prospect of good times returning.

At times like these, the old provincial model doesn't seem too musty and dated.

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