GAA propose scrapping All-Ireland football quarter-finals

New proposed championship structures: No more replays, hurling final moved forward

The GAA have announced proposed changes to the senior football championship - which include plans to scrap the All-Ireland football quarter finals.

Those four knockout games would be replaced with two groups of four competing in a round-robin competition to reach the semi-finals. The first round of those would take place in Croke Park, the provincial champions would host the second and the teams emerging from the qualifier route would have home advantage for the third round.

The provincial and qualifier stages would run unchanged - although replays are to be outright abolished.

Furthermore the league semi-finals will also be done away with - leaving us with only six additional games in the calendar year.

The proposals also look to move the All-Ireland hurling final forward by two weeks.

GAA director general Páraic Duffy says the proposals will allow for "tighter scheduling and a revised policy on replays can bring improvements to the situations that affect the scheduling of club fixtures and the availability of inter-county players to clubs.

“The new structure would provide a more exacting pathway to the All-Ireland final: the finalists will have had to compete with three of the best teams in the country at the group stage, followed by a semi-final with a top-four team that came through the same test. This will have the effect of ensuring that the finalists will have been equally tested and that the two best teams in the country contest the All-Ireland final.

“Both All-Ireland semi-finals would be played over the one weekend which should generate greater excitement and also ensure both teams have the same period of time to prepare for the All-Ireland final.”

The proposals will be discussed at the next meeting of Central Council.

Proposals breakdown

PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: Knock-out format as at present.


Round 1: Sixteen teams that do not qualify for provincial semi-finals

Round 2: Eight round 1 winners play eight defeated provincial semi-finalists

Round 3: Eight round 2 winners play each other on an open-draw basis

Round 4: Four round 3 winners play four provincial runners-up

Proposal 1:

(i) A Division 3 or 4 team drawn against a Division 1 or 2 team in rounds one, two or three of the qualifiers will be granted an automatic home-venue advantage.

(ii) The format of ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides to the qualifier draw will be ended.


Proposal 2:

The current quarter-final stage of the championship to be replaced by a Group Stage, contested by the four provincial champions and the four round 4 qualifier winners.

The group stage will be organised on a league basis with two groups of four teams, with each team playing the other three teams once.

After the group stage is completed the top two teams in each group will progress to the All-Ireland semi-final with the Group 1 winner playing the Group 2 runner-up and the Group 2 winner playing the Group 1 runner-up

Order of fixtures in both groups

Round 1

Team 1 v Team 2. Croke Park

Team 3 v Team 4. Croke Park

Round 2

Team 1 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for provincial champions.

Team 2 V Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for provincial champions.

Round 3

Team 1 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for Team 3 or 4.

Team 2 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for Team 3 or 4.


Home venues shall be subject to approval by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) and shall meet the criteria set down by the National Facilities/Health and Safety Committee. CCCC shall make the draws for Rounds 2 and 3.

The above fixtures format for the group stage means that each team will have one game in Croke Park, one home game and one away game.

Tie-breakers in the event of teams finishing level on points (in order of application):

(i) Result of game between two tied teams (only where two teams are level on points)

(ii) Score difference

(iii) Highest score for

(iv) Goals scored

(v) Play-off match


Group 1 winner v Group 2 runner-up

Group 2 winner v Group 1 runner-up

(to be played over one weekend)



At its meeting on Friday 22nd July, An Coiste Bainistíochta considered the attached proposal and agreed to circulate it to all counties. It will be discussed at the next meeting of Central Council.

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a sports journalist with The Irish Times