New Format for All-Ireland Championship 2023

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There will be a new format for the All-Ireland Championship this year and here is a breakdown of what to expect this time around.

The 2023 GAA All-Ireland Championship will adopt a new structure to determine who is the best team in Ireland following a vote by decision makers in February, 2022.

Here is a guide to how the tournament was previously organised and how the new system is going to work.

How Did the All-Ireland Championship Used to Be Organised?

The first All-Ireland Championship was played in 1887 when it was a straight knockout tournament between the 32 counties, but it was changed the following year with the establishment of four provincial champions for Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht.

Those would be played on a knockout basis and the winner of each province would go into the semi-finals, and this system was operated until 2000.

Then the All-Ireland were introduced to give teams a second chance of progressing.

Teams would battle through knockout matches right through to Round Four, where the four provincial runners-up would be waiting.

The winners of those matches would then take on the four provincial winners in the battle for glory.

Then, in 2018, another modification came with the introduction of the Super-8s, which were organised into two groups of four, with the top two in each going through to the semi-finals.

The qualifiers were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic with the provincial winners going straight through to the semi-finals.

What Are the New Changes to the All-Ireland Championship?

A new format will be introduced for the 2023 season.

The national leagues and provincial championships will be retained and all the provincial finalists will move through to the All-Ireland qualifiers.

They will be joined by the next eight teams in terms of National League rankings and the remainder of the teams will contest the Tailteann Cup.

Those involved in the All-Ireland qualifiers will be organised into four groups of four and three games will be played by each team in a round-robin format.

The four group winners will progress while second and third-placed teams will battle it out to claim a place in the quarter-finals.

What Are the Aims of the New System?

The main aim of the new system is to try and create more competitive games and have more games that matter.

There will be an extra emphasis on national league rankings as these will determine seedings in the battles for the Sam Maguire Cup and the Tailteann Cup.

More group stages should also ensure teams play more games against teams of a similar level.

What Are the Potential Problems With the New System?

There are some concerns that there will be a lack of jeopardy in the group stages with both second and third-placed teams having a chance to reach the quarter-finals.

That means only four teams will be eliminated at that time and there may not be much interest for teams who have already guaranteed their place in the next round.

There are also worries that the retention of the provincial systems means that little will change with regard to the dominance of Dublin in Leinster and Kerry in Munster.

There are still games won by a large margin in Connacht so Ulster remains the most closely contested province, so it will be interesting to see whether the public engages with the new format and whether it will produce a more thrilling spectacle.

A vastly experienced journalist, Ian has worked the beat on a number of local newspapers and covers a number of different sports for the Racing Post
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