All-Ireland SFC Round 3: Permutations going into the final round of games

The four group leaders will face the sides in second place over the final weekend

Dublin's Group Two game against Mayo in Roscommon is a winner takes all affair on Sunday. Photograph: Evan Treacy/Inpho

Last year the final round of the Sam Maguire group matches was when the All-Ireland football championship took off as a range of shocks on the closing weekend saw the top three positions change in every group.

The same latitude does not appear to exist this time around. Twelve months ago, none of the counties leading the four tables going into the final day managed to stay on course for direct access to the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

That meant Mayo, Roscommon and Monaghan went from having one foot in the last eight to being drawn away in the last 12.

Going into the weekend, Armagh, Cork, Dublin and Kerry top the groups and in a tribute to the scheduling, all four are playing the second-placed team in the group, Galway, Tyrone, Mayo and Louth. And so, a draw will suffice for all four.


Permissive qualification regulations – only four teams from 16 will depart the championship – ensure that no county is beyond redemption going into the final matches, although a year ago, no county propping up the table going into the last match, managed to rise from that status.

Group One

Armagh need only draw with Galway to earn first place. League winners Derry are bottom and will need to beat Westmeath to progress.

Fixtures – Saturday: Derry v Westmeath, Páirc Esler, Newry, 7.0; Sunday: Galway v Armagh, Markievicz Park, Sligo, 1.45

Group Two

Winner takes all in the Dublin-Mayo match and a draw will see Dublin top the table. Roscommon have the scoring difference edge on Cavan, who must win.

Fixtures – Saturday: Roscommon v Cavan, Pearse Park, Longford, 5.0; Sunday: Dublin v Mayo, Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon, 3.45

Group Three

If Cork don’t lose to Tyrone, they top the group. There is an assumption that Donegal will win against Clare and should Tyrone win, the three-way tie will be decided on scoring difference with Cork certain to come third.

Fixtures – Saturday: Tyrone v Cork, O’Connor Park, Tullamore, 3.0; Donegal v Clare, MacHale Park, Castlebar, 3.0

Group Four

Kerry are favourites to top the group. A creditable Louth campaign guarantees their progress whereas the winners of Monaghan v Meath will also go forward – again with the draw favouring the Ulster county.

Fixtures – Sunday: Kerry v Louth, O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, 3.0; Monaghan v Meath, Breffni Park, Cavan, 3.0.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times