Football review: Where do we go from here?

longford

In the six years of results built into our mathematical model, the biggest ‘shock’ – where the winning side had the lowest expectation of coming out on top – was Longford’s win away in Derry in the qualifiers last year. Our model had given Longford just a 5.3% chance of winning in that game. If anyone had a track record of unlikely victories – in as much as anyone has a ‘track record’ – it’s Longford.

But while they had a 5.3% chance in Derry last year – meaning they would win the fixture one time in every 20 – in Croker their chances fell to just 1%. They had a one-in-100 chance of dismantling the Dublin juggernaut and it’s hardly any surprise

There is a certain amount of unnecessary hand-wringing about the increasing gulf in standard between football’s elite and its also-rans. The gulf in football has never been as big as it is in hurling, but nobody frets about it – it’s accepted that even among the 13 counties in the Liam MacCarthy Cup, only four or five have any reasonable prospect of looking to win the All-Ireland. Football needs to realise that there are no sporting competitions on earth in which everyone has a chance of winning outright.

Yes, the arbitrary provincial boundaries are a bother; had the draw been different, the reigning All-Ireland champions Kerry could have played their opening game against Waterford, the weakest side in the land. But those divisions are man-made and the GAA already knows they can be moved when convenience allows. The solutions for a restructured championship – the type where Longford can look forward to a decent day out without already stuffing their tails between their legs – are there if only there’s enough willpower to implement them.

Football rankings
(w/e May 31, 2015)
1 Dublin 1969
2 Kerry 1847
3 Donegal 1785
4 Mayo 1777
5 Cork 1771
6 Monaghan 1688
7 Tyrone 1583
8 Derry 1491
9 Meath 1469
10 Armagh 1449
11 Roscommon 1425
12 Galway 1401
13 Kildare 1396
14 Down 1390
15 Laois 1318
16 Cavan 1269
17 Tipperary 1247
18 Fermanagh 1206
19 Westmeath 1159
20 Sligo 1141
21 Clare 1085
22 Wexford 1060
23 Longford 1055
24 Limerick 1021
25 Louth 1021
26 Offaly 960
27 Antrim 895
28 Leitrim 874
29 Wicklow 766
30 Carlow 694
31 Waterford 649
32 London 570

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