We’ve known for a good while that our first outing in the Connacht championship for 2019 would take place across the Atlantic in New York – with that preliminary round game now fixed for Sunday, 5th May – but, with due deference to the footballing talents in the Big Apple, later this evening we’ll find out who we’ll be playing first next summer once the lads land back on home soil.
In recent years it has appeared that, with only a few short weeks having passed since the All-Ireland final, the provincial draws for the following summer have been made with immodest haste. There are no such sentiments from our perspective this year – we were turfed unceremoniously out of this year’s championship over three months ago and so next year’s action can’t come soon enough.
Tonight’s draw will, along with the League schedule that has already been announced, provide an important building block in James Horan’s plans for next year. Plans that will surely include our making an appearance in a Connacht final for the first time since 2015 and, once we’re there, winning the Nestor Cup to gain direct entry to the so-called Super 8s.
It’s fair to say that we haven’t been blessed with charitable draws in Connacht in recent years. In fact you have to go back as far as 2012 for the most recent time that the draw hasn’t pitted us (at least potentially) against both Galway and Roscommon within the province. For the last three years running we’ve been paired with Galway in advance of the decider, losing – lest we need reminding – each time.
I’m no conspiracy theorist – far from it in fact – but the draws we’ve been getting, when you compare them with Roscommon’s, are at this stage testing the outer limits of the laws of chance. So a nice handy 2019 semi-final draw against Leitrim once we emerge from the do-or-die encounter with the Yanks would be both welcome and enormously overdue.
Tonight’s draw takes place on RTÉ2, with the show throwing in at 8.30pm.