Championship time in football offshoots

Besides the USA, two other countries have a prominent game called “football” that is not played with 11 people kicking a ball at a goal without using their hands, and this is the season for their versions of the Super Bowl:

In Australian rules football, we’re down to a surprising final four. The playoff format, which I’ve long argued should be used in U.S. soccer, favors the top four seeds, giving them a second chance if they lose their openers. Last weekend, No. 3 Geelong and No. 4 Fremantle got the boot. See North Melbourne’s two-minute defensive stand to stop Geelong on the AFL site, which also has an eight-minute highlight reel that shows you how deep a hole Geelong had to climb out of.

This weekend’s “preliminary finals” (we would call them semifinals, since the winners advance to the final) will be shown in the USA, though not necessarily live. Sydney, which won a three-way tiebreaker with Hawthorn and Geelong to take the top seed, hosts sixth seed North Melbourne. No. 5 Port Adelaide goes to Hawthorn.

I’m finding broadcasts at 11:30 p.m. ET Friday (Fox Sports 2) and midnight Saturday/Sunday morning (Fox Soccer Plus). That should be Sydney-North Melbourne first and then Hawthorn-Port Adelaide, but I couldn’t verify it.

The Grand Final, an event with all the pomp and excess of the Super Bowl, is Sept. 27. Fox Soccer Plus has a live broadcast at 12:30 a.m. ET.

A lower division final (no, there’s no promotion/relegation) was recently stopped at halftime by something even more violent than the game itself, with fans getting involved.

In Gaelic (Irish) football, Donegal faces Kerry on Sept. 21 in the All-Ireland final, which had a few good storylines leading up to it, including Donegal’s massive upset of Dublin and a semifinal replay controversially moved away from Croke Park by the Penn State-Central Florida (American) football game.

In other Gaelic sports a little farther removed from football:

– Hurling: Kilkenny and Tipperary played to a draw in the All-Ireland final Sept. 7. They’ll replay it Sept. 27.

– Camogie: Cork rallied to beat Kilkenny today in the All-Ireland final of the women’s equivalent of hurling.

If you want to see the football and hurling finals, chances are you’ll need to check out your local Irish pub. As if you needed an excuse.

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