One week down, two weeks to go – the Super 8s are up and running.
Little surprise that the Dubs are the team with the best record following their 13-point win over Cork, though Mayo's position at the bottom of their group wasn’t predicted by many.
The new-look All-Ireland quarter-final phase is still very much at the audition stage, this is year two of a three-season experiment, so a strong showing in 2019 is needed to see it permanently added to the fixture calendar.
Unfortunately for the GAA, that’s not what they got in phase one – the winning margins were 13 points, ten points, nine points and four.
The Dubs game against Cork was closer than expected for a long stretch, but in the end they overwhelmed the Rebels as anticipated.
Meath too kept pace with Donegal for much of the game, though they too fell away. Roscommon lost to Tyrone by four, but really they were only barely in touch through the second half.
Probably the most eye-catching result of the weekend was Kerry's demolition of Mayo, even if the game was over as a contest before the break.
Looking forward to next weekend’s phase two fixtures at Croke Park – Cork-Tyrone and Dublin-Roscommon on Saturday, and Mayo-Meath and Donegal-Kerry on Sunday – there’s just really one game to get the pulse racing at this stage.
The big one is Kerry-Donegal, the only meeting of two unbeaten teams in the Super 8s and if there is a winner they will have one foot in the All-Ireland semi-finals with a game to spare.
If Kerry win, they’ll be on four points, with a strong scoring difference and a trip to Navan to play Meath on the final day. Donegal have a trickier assignment on the final day against Mayo, though the sting could be gone out of this one if the Green Above the Red don’t beat Meath this Saturday.
Should they beat the Royals, Mayo’s best hope of advancing is for Kerry to beat Donegal this weekend and then, two weeks later, to beat the Ulster champions themselves in Castlebar.
If Donegal win on Saturday it’s still possible for three teams to finish on four points in this group and with their strong points difference Kerry (+10) and Donegal (+9) are already in pole position. For Meath to reach the last four they’ll have to beat Mayo in Croker and Kerry in Páirc Tailteann.
As expected, this is panning out as the more predictable of the two groups. Dublin and Tyrone have a win apiece and Roscommon and Cork both one-for-one in the losses column.
It’s hard to see the Dubs slipping up against Roscommon, whose best shot of advancing always looked like scoring a win over Tyrone in Dr Hyde Park and then travelling to Cork in phase three with something to play for against the Rebels.
If the Dubs and Tyrone do win this weekend, the group will be decided with a round of games to spare. The only thing up for decision on the last day when the Boys in Blue visit Omagh would be top spot.
The top team in one group plays the second placed team in the other.