AND THEN THERE were eight.
The race for Sam Maguire heats up this weekend as the Super 8s portion of the All-Ireland SFC gets underway.
All-Ireland semi-final spots are up for grabs as the two groups of four teams battle it out in the round-robin series.
Group 1 consists of Kerry, Donegal, Mayo and Meath but which two sides will advance to the final four of the competition?
The Kingdom come into Super 8s after collecting their seventh Munster SFC on the bounce but they were made to sweat for the crown.
Cork pushed the champions all the way, hitting three goals throughout the tie. But Peter Keane’s side held their composure to see out a three-point victory.
Kerry will be hoping for a better outcome in the Super 8s this year after they failed to progress to the All-Ireland semi-finals in 2018. Mayo will present a tricky assignment in the opening round this weekend.
Donegal also took the direct route to this stage of the competition and come in as back-to-back Ulster champions. They comfortably accounted for Cavan in the final with a 1-24 to 2-16 victory.
Similar to Kerry, they too crashed out of the championship at the Super 8s stage last year after they finished third in Group 2.
They begin this year’s campaign with a home tie against Meath.
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This is uncharted territory for James Horan’s charges. A shock defeat to Kildare in the qualifiers saw Mayo bow out prematurely last year.
And they had to take the same route again in 2019 championship after they were stunned by Roscommon in the Connacht SFC earlier in the summer.
But they managed to reach the Super 8s this time around following victories over Down, Armagh and Galway. A trip to Killarney awaits them this weekend.
The Royals also advanced to this stage as a qualifier entry.
They held on for a narrow win over Clare last weekend after previously losing out heavily to Dublin in the Leinster final, scoring just four points in Croke Park.
They travel to Ballybofey to take on Donegal in their Super 8s opener.
All-Ireland Super 8s Group 1
Round 1 Fixtures – Sunday 14 July
Donegal v Meath, Ballybofey, 2pm
Kerry v Mayo, Fitzgerald Stadium, 4pm
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