September Road: How often do teams from lower divisions spring a surprise?

Unique world of the kit man; verbal jibes in Monaghan v Fermanagh and more

Although they had a closer-than-usual Leinster game yesterday, Dublin’s brilliance still tends to skew any debate about championship structures. But if we remove that great outlier from the equation, how wide is the relative gap when teams in different league divisions meet in championship?

As 2020 had no qualifiers, we’ll go back to 2019. That year, excluding the Dubs, New York (who don’t enter the league) and replays, there were 59 matches in the All-Ireland SFC.

Fifteen featured teams in the same league division. Of the remaining 44, just six were won by the lower-ranked side, there were three draws and 15 other games were close, decided by margins of four or less, for an overall total of 24 ‘close’ games (54.5 per cent).

In all, 35 head-to-heads (79.5 per cent) were won by the team in the higher division and nine (20.4 per cent) were ‘mismatches’ (more than 10 in the difference). The rest were in the middle somewhere.


The average margin of victory when teams in different league divisions met was 6.7 points (median, 5.5), compared to 6.3 (median, 4) for two teams in the same division.

By the numbers

4: The number of Galway players in yesterday’s starting XV against Roscommon who also started the Connacht final two years ago - Liam Silke, Johnny Heaney, Shane Walsh and Peter Cooke.

Quote of the weekend

“The Tailteann Cup for you boys!” - An unnamed Monaghan player enjoys a verbal joust with a Fermanagh mentor, as reported by journalist Declan Bogue.

Unique world of the kit man

Hurling kit men seem to be a unique breed, with their longevity and dressing-room popularity almost as impressive as their nicknames. On duty for Wexford on Saturday was Michael ‘Gazzy’ Collins, soon to turn 83 years of age and who worked under seven different Clare managers before switching to Wexford with Davy Fitzgerald.

A controversy erupted in 2017 after Tipperary dispensed of the services of John ‘Hotpoint’ Hayes after 30 years. One article on the bombshell revealed that “members of the hurley-carrying fraternity” had been in touch to offer their support, including Kilkenny stalwart since the 1970s Denis ‘Rackard’ Cody and Galway’s James ‘Tex’ Callaghan.

GAA mixes up its McKennas

Gaelic games non-story of the week had to be the one carried by the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday. The yarn? Someone in Croke Park accidentally emailed details of a media launch to a journalist named Conor McKenna rather than the Tyrone player of the same name.

“The GAA has been left red-faced after an invite to a press conference intended for a player was instead forwarded to a journalist,” the report began, going on to detail how the player had - shock, horror! - been told when to turn up and given a running order.

It concluded by stating that Tyrone GAA had been contacted for comment.

Dubs and Mayo run closer than expected

The betting handicap in the Dublin v Wexford match yesterday was set at 24 points, a new record. The Dubs were 1/500 to win the game, the same odds available on Mayo hurlers against Leitrim in the Nicky Rackard Cup.

As it turned out, neither covered the spread, Mayo winning by 19 and Dublin by eight; Wexford’s 0-7 and Leitrim’s 0-10 were the lowest and second-lowest tallies posted by any of the 38 teams in action at the weekend in all adult grades.