The Super 8s experiment is now two-thirds of the way towards completion and its future remains very much up for debate.
The general consensus is that year two was better than its first iteration, yet the statistics don't make for particularly pretty reading.
Last year the average winning margin in the new All-Ireland quarter-final round robin phase was 6.8 points. In 2019 that grew to 7.25 across a dozen matches and that includes the Kerry-Donegal game that ended in a draw.
Apart from that draw only two games ended with a score or less between the teams. There were three double-digit hammerings and wins by nine points and eight points.
'We tend to look at the negative more so than the positive. I think there's been some very good games in the Super 8s' - @ConorMcManus_15, @whelo35, and @tomas5ky ponder the successes and failures of the Super 8s #RTEGAA pic.twitter.com/6ZEMwP79ul— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) August 4, 2019
It’s true that the standard of football was up this year, though that could be said for the game right across the board in this championship, and the presence of Mayo helped to add intrigue that was missing last year - even their ten-point mauling by Kerry in Killarney was compelling viewing.
The Kingdom-Donegal game which finished 1-20 apiece was a classic for the ages and by far the best contest we have seen in the Super 8s, Mayo-Donegal was a brutalist masterpiece in the rain and Cork provided some memorable moments against Dublin and Tyrone.
But then there was the Dubs, a side currently unbeatable at this stage of the competition that cruised though with three wins from three and a positive scoring difference of 37 points.
Once Roscommon failed to get a result against Tyrone in Dr Hyde Park on the first day of the competition everyone knew that their goose was cooked, proving that there isn’t currently the depth in quality to make two even, competitive groups.
The final round of fixtures in Group 2 last Sunday were played only because they had to be with little or nothing at stake. Jim Gavin and Mickey Harte decided to make 28 changes between them for the meeting of Dublin and Tyrone in Omagh, and who could blame them?
Having already taken care of business early they both have a week-or-so to prepare their team for a semi-final and the chance of a repeat meeting in the All-Ireland final saw them wisely keep their big day plans under wraps.
But if you were a fan who had paid €25 for a ticket, filled the car with diesel and drove a few hours to this match you’d be very entitled to feel short-changed.
It’s a long and expensive day to watch a glorified challenge game played at the pace and intensity of your average pitch opening.
The Sunday Game panelists at the weekend were upbeat about what the Super 8s have brought to the football championship, which in itself is unusual as the analysis surrounding the big ball game is often overwhelmingly negative.
The feeling is that Croke Park are in favour of retaining the Super 8s, a name given by the Club Players’ Association and one those around the corridors of power aren’t particularly keen on, though ultimately it’s the delegates on the floor of GAA Annual Congress that will decide.
It remains unclear yet whether the decision will be made at next year’s congress in February or whether a special congress will be organised later in the year to allow a review following the round robin group stage’s third running.
The GAA are to be applauded for trying something new and it’s fair to say that the group stages in the provincial hurling championships, which were born as a result of the creation of the Super 8s, have been a rip-roaring success.
The same can’t be said for football’s round robin group stage and if it’s to stay change is needed.
Most obvious, Dublin can’t be allowed to play two games in Croke Park. A tweak to pair the first-round winners in the second round where possible could go a long way to eliminating dead rubbers in round three.
Adding an extra week after the Super 8s conclusion before the All-Ireland semi-finals would help too - giving a team just six days to prepare for the biggest game of their season simply isn’t right.
The Super 8s is, of course, part of a wider debate around the structures of the championship, which is currently played off on a provincial, second chance, round robin and straight knock-out format in a highly compressed time-frame.
If the second tier championship that the GAA seem intent on driving through arrives next year it will add a further layer of complication, with the 16 top tier teams having a one-in-two chance of making the quarter-finals.