Down to the wire for the U20s

When the Connacht U20 football Championship shifted this year from a straight knockout format to one starting with a group stage, in which each county had four games, the hope surely must have been that it would be competitive right to the final round.

As the group stage heads into the final round this night week, it has certainly delivered on that. All five counties can still make it to the knockout stage, with only one of them – table-toppers Galway – certain of making at least the semi-final.

Tonight’s matches – which didn’t involve us – resulted in two draws. While the game between Galway and Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park ended in a low-scoring 0-6 apiece stalemate, the Markievicz Park meeting of Sligo and Leitrim was a rip-roaring contest that finished 2-11 to 1-14.

These results leave the table as follows tonight:

This means that next Wednesday’s final round of matches – in which we entertain Sligo while Leitrim are at home to Roscommon – are, to all intents and purposes, knockout fixtures. That said, a draw will do ourselves and the Rossies (who so far have three draws from three outings) while Sligo and Leitrim both need wins to progress.

30 thoughts on “Down to the wire for the U20s

  1. I’ve no idea, Cp. Like TsuDhoNim has already said, it’s difficult to locate any details of this kind relating to how placings for the knockout stage are decided, including where the games will be played.

  2. @Cp: Closest thing I got to ‘information’ (using the term very lightly) was last year’s Connacht Council Report, which goes as far as “Competition Regulations TBC”.

    https://connachtgaa.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/39/2024/01/Connacht-Council-Report-2023a-DIGITAL.pdf (Page 76 for the U20 stuff)

    Sadly, no clarity on Neutral/Home advantage for Semi-Final’s and nothing to clarify the specifics on separating teams tied on points (with multiple different systems in place for deciding that varying fairly randomly by competition/province/grades). Fingers crossed someone in Connacht GAA or any of the counties involved can shine a little more light on it in advance of Wednesday evening.

  3. Amazingly competitive competition and great that all 5 counties can still make it. Ironically the only game Galway lost was against us, Roscommon are the only unbeaten side and no team has lost more than one game. Very hard to call how it will go next week but at least it will be exciting

  4. CP- I’d say it’s same as u17. Second placed team gets home advantage for semi. Team that finishes top gets home advantage for final.

  5. Such competitive championship I doubt we’ll ever see such a competitive championship in Connacht again. It’s a pity there isn’t All-Ireland Quarter final like they have at minor to allow at least two Connacht teams through. The one team that are lucky enough to get through will be well battled hardened before facing the Ulster champions.

  6. On home advantage didn’t Mayo U17s get a home semi v Sligo in 2019 even though finish 3rd in group. Connacht gaa might have adjusted that since?

  7. As far as I know, the tie breaker for team level on points is head to head. If three teams are level on points, it is score difference in games between those teams.

    This means that a Mayo and Ros win would leave us top. A mayo and Leitrim win would leave us third and in semi, away from home.

    A mayo win and draw in the other game leaves us top. A mayo draw and a winner in other game puts us third and into semi.

    My head hurts when I think of the scenario of a draw in both games but I think that would put us out.

  8. Y’know this format would actually be the perfect senior championship. You get games to develop, you don’t get a convoluted structure. You go on into quarter finals after the provincial round robin and final.

  9. Agree with all the positive comments. Love the idea of these midweek matches, though post-op rehab is ruling out travel at the moment. Is there anything to stop Connacht running the senior championship this way?

  10. Time would be an obvious constraint, Catcol, there’s simply no way it could be accommodated within the current calendar. Also while such a format would work well in Connacht and Ulster (given that both provinces remain competitive) it would be a complete waste of time in Leinster and Munster.

  11. JP .. suits u20 but couldn’t see it working at senior.. impossible with time constraints to have a round robin in bigger provinces .. who wants 2 Munster teams in a Q Final? What would you do with London and New York?

  12. @Doc: Can I ask where you’re getting that from Doc? (A chat or discussion a perfectly valid source in the context around this one)

    I totally believe it, think it matches the PPS system Connacht GAA use for a lot of these same players iirc so probably makes more sense than mirroring the senior system, but I’ve searched extensively and can’t find it covered anywhere.

  13. No , a Mayo and Ros win would see galway top it most likely as they have a far better pts difference . Cant see any side (that can get to 5 pts ) winning by 10 plus

  14. @Sean burke: In Doc’s mentioned rules the ‘normal’ score difference goes out the window and it’d only be the score difference from the games involving the tied sides. Once Galway lose the 9 point win over Leitrim and the victory over Sligo they’d be left with a draw vs Roscommon and their defeat to us finishing bottom of the 3 tied teams. With Roscommon second to us having drawn to both and us top on our positive SD having beaten Galway.

    Once Leitrim aren’t involved (removing Galway’s big win, our defeat and whatever Roscommon might do to them in the final game) we’d be heavy favourites for any ties…. again, if that method of tie-breaking is correct.

    In the case Doc mentioned where everyone draws next week we’d finish 4th alright. With Leitrim 2nd having beat us, Roscommon 3rd having drawn with both and us bottom of the 3 due to our negative SD from the Leitrim defeat.

    Shows why the method of tie-breaking, which isn’t yet known, is so important to next week as everything you said is 100% true if the table follows the method of tie-breaking used in the Senior NFL or Group Stages of Sam/Tailteann.

  15. I would disagree slightly with Willie Joe wrt to the time constraints – this years Connacht Championship is spread over 5 weekends, exactly enough time for the Round Robin, and the Provincial finals being staggered, gives an extra weekend for a Final.

    So very condensed but just about doable.

    Obviously no more New York, but London could still be included without adding an extra weekend, and 6 teams means you could play off 3 v 4 and 5 v 6 on the Saturday, with 1 v 2 Final on the Sunday. I know that they’re kind of pointless but I like to give teams the same amount of games where possible.

    There would be both pro and cons to this from a footballing POV:
    The obvious con is that it might leave Connacht teams too tired to properly compete outside the province.
    But the Pro would be that you have more games, and we are already seeing how limited the current calendar is for blooding new talent.
    So a few years of this might allow teams to build deeper panels and cancel out the above Con.

    WTS there is a way to space it out more, and that would be abolishing the FBD and playing 2-3 of the Round Robin rounds in that space in the calendar. Week on week in January, but a more appropriate every second weekend in April/May.

    The best way to do it imo though would be to have provincial weekends during the League – 14 games in 16 weeks roughly on this year’s calendar. Abolishing FBD gives you 2 extra weeks. And 14 games into 18 weeks is pretty close to 3 weekends in a row and a weekend off – which is almost exactly the same ratio we have now. Would guarantee every Connacht team 13 games, compared to the current 9, and a max of 14, exactly the same as now (I’m counting FBD in those numbers).

    I’d be hopeful that Provincial experiment is the next step in developing the sport. There are a few tweaks to the current All Ireland section that need to come in, but the provincial competitions are the next big one to be tackled.

  16. Published tonight. Mayo looking good for U20 final but will be final played in a neutral venue.

    The criteria to decide placings among teams that finish level on points after next Wednesday’s final round of games in this year’s absorbing Connacht U-20 Football Championship has been confirmed by the Connacht Council.

    With just three points separating all five counties, the only guarantee ahead of next Wednesday’s final round is that Galway have qualified for the knockout stages.

    Roscommon, Sligo, Mayo and Leitrim can still join the Tribesmen in the business end of the championship depending on next week’s results.

    The team that finish top of the table will qualify straight for the final. Teams 2 and 3 on the table will meet in a semi-final. Both the semi-final and final will be played at neutral venues.

    If two teams finish level on points, the result between those teams will decide who finishes higher. In the case of a draw between the teams, scoring difference will apply.

    If three teams finish on the same number of points, results between those three teams, and not scoring difference, will decide the placings.

  17. So I think a win would mean we top the group, unless Leitrim beat the Rossies, in which case we would need at least an 11 point victory.

  18. @FrostTHammer: Nahhh.

    Once Leitrim win their game we’re out of the running for a final. Galway’s win over Leitrim and Leitrim’s win over us means we’ve no chance in a 3 way tie with those two teams. We need a Leitrim draw or Roscommon win to top the group (with a 1 point win the same for us as a 100 point win in that scenario).

    Can’t see any combination of results where the score differences generated on Wednesday end up mattering, it’ll all come back to SD in previous games now.

    A win for us guarantees a semi spot, beyond that we’re looking at the other game too.

    A win + Leitrim win = Semi for us vs Galway (Leitrim through to the final)
    A win + Leitrim/Roscommon draw = Final for us (Semi for Galway/Roscommon)
    A win + Roscommon win = Final for us (Semi for Galway/Roscommon)

    A draw in both games = No semi possible (Galway in final, Leitrim/Roscommon semi)
    A draw + Win for either Leitrim/Roscommon = Semi for us (Leitrim in final if they win with us/Galway in Semi, we haven’t had enough clarity to know what happens in a Roscommon win. A few steps of tie-breaking missing from what Connacht Council gave away yesterday to know how to separate Ros/Galway. We’d be playing one of them in the semi – likely Roscommon in semi as using total Score Difference after tied team Score Difference the logical next step [outside chance it could be total points for next or something totally off the wall])

    A loss = No semi possible (happy to spell out the final/semi combos there based on Ros/Leitrim if anyone likes it… but imagine 99% of us only care about the Mayo side of things)

  19. “A win + Leitrim win = Semi for us vs Galway (Leitrim through to the final)”
    I dont follow , probably missing something here .

    Three way tie on 5 points .
    Leitrim beat Mayo
    Galway beat Leitrim
    Mayo beat Galway . (Thats 2 pts each in mini league )?

    Scoring diff in mini league .
    Galway plus 5
    Leitim plus 4
    Mayo plus 2

    Typing out loud here

  20. @Sean burke: No, no. You’re spot on.

    Mixed up Leitrim beating Galway by 9 with what happened. Galway final and Leitrim/Mayo semi there as you correctly mentioned.

    I’ll blame actively trying to avoid thinking about a Leitrim win too much, worst case for us, rather than just stupidity taking the wheel 😉

  21. The SD in that mini-league case would be slightly different:

    1. Galway +5 (+9 Leitrim, -4 Mayo)
    2. Mayo -1 (+4 Galway, -5 Leitrim)
    3. Leitrim -4 (+5 Mayo, -9 Galway)

    But Galway into the final and a Mayo/Leitrim semi, as you mentioned.

  22. @TsuDhoNim

    In the Leitrim win case:
    It’d be a three way tie on the results between the teams – 1 win and 1 loss each.

    What is not clear, at least based on what MO2023 has above is if the three teams are then separated by score difference in the games between them – in which case you are correct – or their overall score difference – which is what I was basing my statement on.

  23. Had this open for a few hours and so I missed a few comments, but thankfully I think I am ok 🙂

  24. @FrostTHammer: It’s the score difference alright in the games between them in that ‘mini-league’ scenario once the points are tied. Maurice Brosnan has mentioned that one, above and beyond Ian Cooney’s Roscommon Herald article quoted above (https://www.roscommonherald.ie/sport/gaa/criteria-confirmed-for-deciding-connacht-u-20-football-finalist-and-semi-finalists_arid-14035.html).

    The quirky/interesting one is we’re still missing some information on separating some super specific set of events.

    – If Roscommon beat Leitrim by 9 and we draw, putting Galway/Ross tied at the top, it’ll be level on H2H & score difference.
    – At that stage you’d imagine it might (we haven’t heard yet, even with the clarifications) go to total scores for where Roscommon could beat Leitrim by 31 to 22, leaving them level on H2H/Score Difference/total scores for/total scores against.
    – At that point you could see it go to total goals scored (in theory Roscommon could tie that too if they score 5 on Wednesday) and then potentially as far as total goals conceded (where it would separate them as Galway have conceded less even before Wednesday’s game).

    That said, no guarantee they’ve included goals conceded or scored as factors as we haven’t/seen heard about it so far…. so in the 1 in a million chance Roscommon win 31-22 and us drawing it could get fierce interesting (potentially even legal challenges) with no real time available for a play-off if that was ever thrown in as a potential tie-breaker.

  25. @TsuDhoNim

    Is there space for an extra weekend in the calendar?

    Galway and Roscommon could have a play off with the winners reaching the final and the losers playing us for a final place.

    A one in a million problem deserves a one in a million solution.

  26. I understand Meath played all the Connaught u20 in challenges and Sligo were the best team.
    Best Sligo and worry about the rest after.

  27. @FrostTHammer: Not really, no. Just the couple of days wiggle room currently left in the calendar and that’s between the Connacht Semi-Final & Connacht Final (so too late for a playoff) when we’re shifting from Wednesday to weekend games. From then on it’s week by week right up until an All Ireland winner so very little room for adjustments or changes.

    R4 Connacht 17th April
    Connacht Semi Final 24th April
    Connacht Final weekend 4th/5th May
    AI Semi-Final weekend 11th/12th May (Connacht vs Ulster Provincial Pairing)
    AI Final weekend 18th/19th May

  28. Agree Willie Joe re other provinces, but time constraints aside (a big factor), Connacht would seem to have autonomy to run a round robin if it suited all.

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