Football rankings: where the counties stand now

November 20, 2020

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire Cup. ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.

Here are our latest football rankings with four pieces of silverware still up for grabs.


Six in a row chasing Dublin are still the team to beat. If anyone stops their record breaking progress it will rank as the biggest sporting shock of the year. Have won every game since intercounty football resumed and were in a different class to Laois in the Leinster semi-final. Dessie Farrell has injected some new blood but the chasing pack will have noted that the likes of Paul Mannion and Brian Howard are ready to step up the plate as well.


Have been untouchable in Ulster, impressing against Tyrone and thrashing Division 1 side to be, Armagh. The one team that everyone is tipping to put it up to Dublin. Their formidable physical presence is standing to them on heavy pitches.


League champions but shocked to their core by the loss to Cork with the last kick of the game in the Munster semi-final. Arguably they set up too defensively against the Rebels but the winter championship didn’t suit them.

4. MAYO 

Connacht champions for the first time in five seasons, the path to the All-Ireland final seems to have opened up after Kerry’s exit. An exciting blend of young talent with older heads has Mayo fans dreaming that 2020 might just be their year.


The Rebels started the year in Division 3 but have been unbeaten in league and championship this year, with the headline win over Kerry propelling them to new heights. That Munster semi-final was the first time since 1999 that Cork had dumped Kerry out of the race for the All-Ireland.


On the hunt for a new manager, seeing Tyrone without Mickey Harte on the sideline will take some getting used to. The downside of a knockout championship meant that when the two best sides in Ulster faced up in the quarter-finals the loser was going out big. Conor McKenna’s form on his return from Australia bodes well but there will be plenty of pressure on the new man given the standards set by Harte.


From such promise in the Spring to the most damp squib of a comeback once the intercounty season returned. Three games since lockdown ended, three loses and it is hard to know which was most dispiriting - the hockeying from Mayo in the league or the one point loss to the same opposition in the Connacht final. 


Yo yo-ing from Division 1 to Division 2 and back again saw Roscommon make the jump back to the top division again this year. There were high hopes of once again lowering Mayo’s colours in the Connacht semi-final but the Rossies were well off the pace.


Winless in Division 1 Meath made the drop straight back down in the league but there was a lot to be positive about as Andy McEntee blooded plenty of new faces and in turn finds himself with a much stronger panel than in 2019. Meath are closing in on Dublin but given the size of the gap between the two counties, that might be of little consolation in a championship season with no backdoor.


The most competitive of all Divisions, Allianz League 2, conspired to send the Breffni men to a second consecutive relegation. Things looked gloomy for Mickey Graham’s men but the most dramatic of wins over Monaghan in the Ulster preliminary round has culminated in a second consecutive Ulster final appearance. 


Considering they cemented what now seems like their permanent hold on Division 1 status, there is much to be positive about for the Farmey men. However, they were another side that struggled when the intercounty season restarted, losing two and drawing one game out of three. But it is the way they threw away a big lead against Cavan before bowing out of Ulster in timid circumstances that will linger in the memory for Banty’s side.


Promotion to Division 1 is a huge step forward for Kieran McGeeney’s side and a championship win over Derry gave more room for optimism. We would normally give a higher ranking to a county for that alone, however their annihilation at the hands of Donegal in the Ulster semi-final took much of the gloss off 2020 for the Orchard County.


There was some mixed league form but Kildare came close to promotion on the final day and looked set for a Leinster final appearance when six points up at half time against Meath. However, the team fell apart in the second half of the Leinster semi-final in the face of a Royal onslaught and Jack O’Connor knows he still has plenty of work to do.


In the mix for promotion from Division 2 right up until the last round, Jack Cooney’s men are a match for most counties. Had the unenviable task of facing Dublin in the first round of the championship and put in a display that made a lot of observers take note.

15. DOWN

Finally up out of Division 3, Paddy Tally’s side were impressive in their championship win over Fermanagh and at half time in the Ulster semi-final were eight points up against Cavan with some pundits already looking forward to the decider. That second half display is one to forget for the Mourne men as they had no answer for Cavan’s hunger. Definitely on an upwards trajectory.


Looked set for the drop to Division 2 until a Lazarus type comeback in the final minutes against Fermanagh kept them safe. Worked hard to see off Longford in the Leinster championship but after a good start, Mike Quirke’s side were no match for Dublin in the Leinster semi-final. 


Retained their Division 2 status and the return of Gary Brennan for the championship meant they had hopes of a Munster final place. Tipperary had other ideas and a Munster quarter-final defeat was not something Banner football supporters expected.


Looked like they might have to forfeit their league tie against Clare due to the impact of Covid but the Ernemen turned up and were unlucky to lose both their remaining league matches as they were relegated. Having stayed with Down in the first half of their Ulster quarter-final, some wayward shooting proved to be their downfall in the end.


Hovering near the bottom reaches of Division 3 saw David Powers men come in for some criticism from their own county folk but they delivered when under pressure to reach the Munster final, with brilliant wins over Clare and Limerick. In Conor Sweeney they have a forward that many a Division 1 side envy.


Only their head to head loss to Down stopped them from gaining promotion out of DIvision 3 and their narrow Ulster loss to Armagh hinted at a positive future. Armagh’s subsequent beating against Donegal put that result into perspective though.


Respectively placed near the top of Division 3, the midlanders got caught by a Laois comeback in the Leinster quarter-final and were one of the teams who really missed the backdoor system, which they normally threw themselves into gung ho.


For the second year in a row John Maughan’s men came close to taking a scalp in the Leinster championship as they fluffed some great goal chances when losing out to Kildare. Were looking over their shoulder at the bottom teams in FL3 for most of the year when they should be more than capable of making a promotion push.


Out of DIvision 4 in Davy Burke’s first year at the helm, the Garden County can look back on 2020 with a real sense of achievement. The Leinster loss to Meath looked worse than it was and Wicklow know they are capable of going toe-to-toe with all bar the top counties in the eastern province.


Division 4 league champions and within seconds of making the Munster final until Conor Sweeney’s wonder sideline point earned Tipperary extra time and a route to victory in a tightly contested provincial semi-final. 


Decimated by a Covid outbreak post lockdown, Terry Hyland’s side had to give a walkover in the league and were already in a relegation battle that they failed to get themselves out of. Gave Mayo a right run for 40 minutes of their Connacht quarter-final before goals put a flattering look on the scoreline for the winners.


Were in promotion contention from Division 4 before Wicklow ran through them in Aughrim in their penultimate game. Led Cavan at halftime in their Ulster quarter-final before pushing the Breffnimen all the way in the second half.


Made the drop to Division 4 with only a final day win against an understrength and already promoted Down the only upside to a disappointing league campaign. A first round loss to Longford saw Wayne Kierans tenure come to an end.


Early pace setters in Division 4 with Kerry legend Paul Galvin at the helm, the Model County were rocked when Galvin announced he was stepping down during lockdown. Their final league match was a winner takes all promotion decider against Wicklow but just like the championship encounter with the same side a week later, the result went against Wexford.


Endured a difficult league after making the drop straight back down from Division 3 last year. Turlough O’Brien stood down during lockdown with Niall Carew coming in to replace him. It was far from ideal but understandable as O’Brien intended to stand down at the end of the year.

30. SLIGO 

Rooted near the bottom on FL4, Sligo couldn’t field in the championship due to a Covid-19 outbreak in their camp. Paul Taylor stood down shortly after they were forced to hand that walkover to Galway. An Annus Horribilis for Sligo.


Benji Whelan stood down after two years at the helm. Finished in the second last spot in the league nationally and fell to a heavy loss against Limerick in the Munster SFC.


Their league campaign was ended by travel restrictions due to Covid-19 which also put an end to their participation in the Connacht SFC.

It's a bumper weekend of inter-county championship matches with football deciders in Leinster, Munster and Ulster, two All-Ireland hurling quarter-finals, two Joe McDonagh Cup ties and the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cup finals. Be sure to follow all of the action live on the match tracker.




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