Jim McGuinness on a slow start to the Super 8s; Harrington says time is on McIlroy’s side

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A view of Croke Park during Galway’s Super 8s clash with Kerry. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

A view of Croke Park during Galway’s Super 8s clash with Kerry. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The inaugural Super 8s got off to an inauspicious start at the weekend, and in his column today Jim McGuinness has lamented what he describes as, “the strangest weekend in the history of the All-Ireland Championship.” Saturday saw Roscommon eviscerated by Tyrone before Dublin eased past Donegal, while on Sunday Monaghan edged past Kildare and Galway beat Kerry in two sodden arm-wrestles in front of a paltry Croke Park crowd. And McGuinness believes the new concept was far from conducive for competitive, championship football, he writes: “It was as if nobody quite got what the Super 8s are supposed to be: not the teams, not the supporters, not the media. Nobody. I came away feeling that the whole thing was weird. The atmosphere was subdued. The crowd was small on both days. The quality of football was generally poor with moments of energy and passages of high-quality play.” And at this stage, does he think anyone looks likely to challenge the Dubs? “On last weekend’s evidence, the brutal truth is that I didn’t see anyone.” Despite an underwhelming start to the Super 8s, the crowds are expected to flock for the second round, with Omagh and Newbridge already sold out.

Two-time British Open winner Padraig Harrington has insisted time is on Rory McIlroy’s side as he looks to end a Major drought which stretches back to 2014. McIlroy’s last Major success came in that year’s US PGA at Valhalla, but he could secure his fifth with victory at Carnoustie this week. And Harrington believes the 29-year-old remains on course to increase his tally: “Rory is well on pace to get into double-digits with the Majors, but it has got harder,” he said. “There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a Major. It makes it tough. But some of the best players still have got one or no Major or two Majors.” McIlroy begins his first round at 12.53pm on Thursday alongside Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen, while Harrington tees off at 2.28pm with Bubba Watson and Matt Wallace.

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