GAA Statistics: The football championship’s power rankings

These rankings are based on results over three years in both league and championship

Mayo’s David Clarke celebrates after beating Galway in the All-Ireland SFC fourth round qualifiers. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Mayo’s David Clarke celebrates after beating Galway in the All-Ireland SFC fourth round qualifiers. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho


This weekend the last eight teams in the football championship will contest the second instalment of the Super 8s. But are they the best eight teams, and if not, who are?

We’ve decided to rank all 33 teams, based on both league and championship performances, over the past three seasons with the latter having twice as much weighting.

League finishes were combined for the 2017-19 seasons, while teams were ranked in each of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 (so far) championships based on the stage at which their respective seasons ended: winners, runner up, semi-finalist, last eight, and qualifiers round 4 to 1. The three years were combined with a bonus weighting for winning a provincial title, added to the league rankings, and the result is . . .

1 Dublin

Jim Gavin’s team are atop of the league rankings despite their no show this year, after winning the final last summer and reaching the final the year before. They’ve won the last three Leinsters and the last two All-Irelands in this rankings cycle, they’re back in the Super 8s and eyeing a historic five in a row. Without doubt, the number one, on any list, regardless of the methodology. (May 2018 ranking: 1)

2 Kerry

The Kingdom are comfortably the second best league team over the past three years, after winning the competition in 2017 and reaching this year’s final. They’re joint second best in the championship rankings too, but when teams are level the most recent season decides who goes top. Kerry are provincial champions – for seven years running – and Tyrone are not. (No change)

3 Tyrone

Tyrone have won one Ulster title (2017), and were in last year’s All-Ireland final, and the semi-final a year earlier. Beaten by eventual winners Dublin in both. But they’re down in fourth in the league rankings. A consistent Division 1 team but they last contested a final in 2013. (+1)

4 Roscommon

The Rossies are probably the surprise package in the top five, but they have consistency to thank for it. Two out of three Connacht titles, and for the third year in a row they’ve made the last eight. They’ve finished seventh, ninth and eighth in the last three league campaigns and so they are the eighth best league team. And the fourth best in the championship. (+4)

5 Donegal

Back to back Ulster champions and another go at the Super 8s awaits, but they’re down in fifth in the championship rankings after missing out on the quarter-finals in 2017. Donegal are back in Division 1 of the league next year, after winning this year’s Division 2 title and from 2017-19 they’re the country’s seventh best league team. (No change)

6 Mayo

A surprisingly low positioning for the neutrals’ favourite team, the reigning league champions are the third best team as regards to that competition. However, they’re down in seventh in the championship rankings. They’ve not won Connacht since 2015, and last year they exited the championship in round 3. Rivals Roscommon, who beat them in the Connacht semi-final, move ahead of them. On any given day many feel they can still beat anybody, they’ve not shown it in a while though. (-3)

7 Galway

These rankings are all about consistency, and despite winning in their province last summer, last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists drop to sixth in the championship rankings after missing out on the 2019 Super 8s. Third best in Connacht? Well they were beaten by both Roscommon and Mayo this summer. They’re the sixth best league team, and after competing in Division 2 in 2017 they’ve reached the league final and had a fifth place finish in the top division. (No change)

8 Monaghan

Another of last year’s All-Ireland semi-finalists at the bottom end of the top eight. Monaghan are a consistent Division 1 league team, but their championship ranking goes down after this year’s round two exit. Four years since their last Ulster title, they were fortunate to avoid league relegation too. They’ll have a new manager in 2020 who will need to halt the decline. (-2)

9 Cork

The only team from the top 16 who are not going to be in Division 1 or 2 next year. Round four exits in 2017 (when they brought Mayo to extra-time) and 2018, were followed up on this year with qualification for the Super 8s. Albeit after beating Division 3 and 4 teams. They are ranked 13th in league performances and eighth in championship. Lots of club, Sigerson, and underage medals in that dressing room and lest we forget they won Sam Maguire in 2010 and were in the league final in 2015. (No change)

10 Kildare

So Kildare are the second best team in Leinster. They beat Mayo to reach last year’s Super 8s and were competitive in it. They were a Division 1 league team in 2018. This year they went out in round 3, missing a number of their best players. Ranked 10th in the league, and the same in the championship, the future does look bright – they’ve won three of the last five Leinster minors, they won last year’s Under-20 Leinster and All-Ireland, and in 2017 Moorefield won the Leinster club title. (No change)

11 Clare

Question marks perhaps over them being ahead of Meath, who edged them in last weekend’s round 4 qualifier. However they’ve been more consistent and reached the third round in the two years previous. They’re ranked 12th in the league and 13th in the championship. (+1)

12 Armagh

Another team above Meath, who aren’t in the Super 8s and remain in Division 2. They’re ranked 17th in the league but are 11th in the championship (worth double) after reaching the 2017 quarter-finals and round 4 last year. No Ulster since 2008 but making gradual improvements. (+2)

13 Meath

Comparing these rankings to the Super 8s, and Cork and Meath trade places with Galway and Monaghan. Meath made a big drive for the league this year and gained promotion to Division 1, leaving them 11th in the league rankings. As for championship, they’re down in 14th after first round and third round exits in 2018 and 2017. Then the draw was tough on them, facing Tyrone and Donegal. This year it’s been the opposite. Nevertheless in five years their only championship wins have been against Wicklow, Sligo, Offaly, Louth, Laois, Clare and Carlow. They’ve won one Leinster minor in 11 years, no under-21 since 2001, nor has any Meath club team won a Leinster title since 2002. (+4)

14 Cavan

If rankings were based on the league alone Cavan would no doubt be in the top 10, in fact they’d be ninth. This year was their first time to show any championship form in a long while though, reaching the Ulster final for the first time since 2001. That moves them up to 15th in the championship standings. Tyrone, who Cavan haven’t beaten since 1983, have knocked them out in the last two years. So the draw hasn’t been great to them, but judged over three years their summer form just hasn’t been to the same level as in the early season. (+1)

15 Laois

Another team rewarded for championship consistency. Laois have reached round 4 of the qualifiers for two years running and are the 12th best championship team. They’ve been consistent in the league for the last two years too, but they started at a low base. They’ve reached the final of Division 4 and 3 in consecutive seasons. (+7)

16 Down

Down contested the Ulster final in 2017, and in 2016 they were in Division 1 of the league. Their showing against Mayo in the qualifiers last month was promising but they are ranked 16th in championship and likewise in the league, they’re level with Laois overall but championship ranking takes precedent. (+5)

17 Westmeath

The Division 3 champions are ranked 19th in the league, after coming up from Division 4 two years earlier. They’re also 19th in championship rankings. (-1)

18 Offaly

Offaly are above Fermanagh, who are in Division Two of the league and reached the Ulster final last year because they’ve been slightly more consistent in the championship. (+6)

19 Fermanagh

Fermanagh have won only two matches in three years – with round 1 exits either side – but they were against Armagh and Monaghan. Offaly above, have beaten London, Sligo and Antrim. Basing things over three years is the best way to account for ‘the luck of the draw’, and the difference in quality between the provinces. But even in that stretch, Fermanagh have not had a handy fixture. (No change)

20 Longford

Longford drew with Kildare in this year’s Leinster campaign, even though 10 places separate them here. A young team on the up, they are 20th in championship rankings and the same in the league. (No change)

21 Tipperary

Since reaching the All-Ireland semi-finals in 2016 they’ve had round 3, round 2 and round 1 exits. They lost to Limerick this summer. They won Division 3 of the league in 2017 and will be back in it next year. Too many good players gone from their squad. (-10)

22 Leitrim

Leitrim got to Croke Park this year for the first time since 1994, and lost to Derry in the Division 4 league final. They’re fifth last in league rankings but 17th in the championship. This is largely due to them beating Louth in last year’s round 2 qualifier to reach the last 16. (+4)

23 Sligo

Division 4 awaits Sligo in 2020, they did not win a game league or championship in 2019. Their three wins in 2018 were in the league against Wexford and Derry, and against London last summer. (-5)

24 Derry

A much improved 2019, promotion to Division 3 but defeat to Laois showed them how far they’ve still left to go. They’re 21st in league, and 25th in championship rankings. (-11)

25 Carlow

The Carlow rising never got going this year, thanks to a tricky Leinster draw, injuries and suspensions. A Round 3 exit in 2017 became round 2 in 2018 and round 1 in 2019. (-2)

26 Louth

Ranked 18th in the league, they were in Division 2 in 2018. Their last three summers though have been ended by Antrim, Leitrim and Longford. (+1)

27 Antrim

No stadium, 27th in championship rankings and 26th in the league. Their win over Louth in the qualifiers was a major shock, their first since 2015. (+1)

28 Limerick

A win over Tipperary gave them their first Munster football win in seven years. Ranked 30th in the league and 26th in the championship. (+1)

29 Waterford

Ranked 29th in the league and likewise in championship, they top Wexford because they went a round further last summer. When they beat them. (+3)

30 Wexford

Ranked 27th in the league, where they’ll remain in Division 4 next year, and 30th in the championship. One championship win in three years, which came against Limerick. (-5)

31 Wicklow

There’s only one Leinster team in the top eight, two in the top 10. And seven in the bottom half. Which indicates the problems the province faces. (-1)

32 London

Only technicalities separated the bottom few teams who are all in Division 4, and for three summers running have all exited the championship in round 1. London have failed to build on their 2013 Connacht final, winning no championship games since. (-1)

33 New York

Since entering the Connacht championship in 1999 the New York footballers have yet to win a match, and they do not have a team in the national leagues. Only 13 New York natives have ever featured in a championship match. Next summer they host Galway. (No change)

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