I’m up to my tonsils in work and other stuff all this week – not a bad week, you’d have to admit, to be forced to focus on non-football issues – and so I haven’t been able to do this before now. Others have, I know, already posted some details of what happens in the qualifiers and what’s facing us in this respect but, for the sake of completeness, here’s the full story as I understand it.
We’re on the A side of the draw – undoubtedly the harder side – and the Round 1A matches are set to be played this weekend. These four ties are as follows:
- Waterford v Derry
- Louth v Longford
- Wicklow v Laois
- Sligo v Antrim
We’ll be drawn to play one of the four winners from these matches, all of which are down for decision this coming Saturday. The draw will be made live on RTÉ Radio One next Monday morning. It’ll be done during the sports bulletin after the 8.30 news headlines on the Morning Ireland programme.
The draw will have two pots, one containing the four Round 1A winners and the other containing ourselves, Clare, Meath/Kildare and Tyrone/Donegal. Those Leinster and Ulster semi-finals are due to be played this weekend.
According to the GAA website (which has full details on the qualifiers – here), a separate draw will be made to determine home advantage.
Whether or not that means first team out is at home I’ve no idea but I guess all will be clarified there as the draw is happening on Monday morning.
Also according to that info on the GAA website, repeat fixtures aren’t prevented from happening so there’s no bar to our drawing Sligo, should the Magpies get past Antrim in Round 1A. Moreover, if they do and we’re paired with them, the rules stipulate that it’s us – as the winners of the provincial championship match between us – who’ll have home advantage.
Once the draw has been done and times and venues have been sorted, the Round 2A matches will then be played on 1st July. This, by the way, knocks on the head my plan of doing the Ring of Kerry cycle that day but, sure, that’s another story altogether. After all, by then we could we salivating at the prospect of a first championship meeting with the Wee County since the 1950 All-Ireland final.
Assuming we’re still standing after Round 2A, the fun starts all over again the following Monday (3rd July) on Morning Ireland. This time the period between the draw being made and the matches played is condensed right down – the ball will be thrown in on all these Round 3A ties just five days later, on Saturday 8th July. The Round 3A draw is an open one, with just one pot, so clearly the Tyrone/Donegal losers (assuming, like ourselves, they’re still standing after Round 2A) are the ones we’d like to avoid at that juncture.
Still with me? If we make it to Round 4A we can look forward to the draw for this being made on Monday, 10th July. This round pairs the two survivors from Round 3A with the losing provincial finalists from Connacht and Munster. Repeat pairings will be avoided where possible but, from what I can see, the only case where this becomes relevant for us (if we’re still upright then) is if Galway were to lose the Connacht final. With apologies to Leitrim and Roscommon (and to Cork as well), it looks like the two Round 3A winners will end up playing either the Rossies or the Rebels in Round 4A.
The Round 4A games have been fixed for Saturday 22nd July, with these ties most likely, though not for sure, to be played at Croke Park. If we make it that far, I can say for definite now that I won’t be at that one as firm plans in a different direction are already in the diary for then.
The two-week break between Rounds 3A and 4A will, no doubt, be welcomed by players and supporters alike (assuming, assuming ….) but there’s then just a week’s break between the latter round and the All-Ireland quarter-finals, which on our side of the draw are down for decision on 29th and 30th July. The A side of the qualifiers funnels into the Munster/Connacht end of the All-Ireland Series, which, let’s face it, can only mean that if we make it that far will result in a quarter-final meeting with Kerry.
If the Rossies were to upset the applecart in the Connacht final (with apologies, once again, to Leitrim) we could, I guess, end up playing them in the quarters but, I guess, that’s all supposition at this stage. Staying with the idle speculation for a small bit longer, though, it’s worth noting that if we beat Kerry in the quarters, then we would play the Connacht champions/Round 4A winners in the semis. Where, with fifteen men in the wide open spaces in Croker, we’d show Galway a thing or two. Providing they manage to get that far this year, of course.
Right, that took slightly longer than I’d envisaged. Let’s finish, though, with a quick straw poll. When the draw is made next Monday for the Round 2A matches , there’ll only be four counties we can be paired with but ahead of those Round 1A matches, which of the eight possibles would you like us to be paired with then? Vote now.