The draws for next year’s Connacht minor and U21 championships were made last night and we got nothing soft in either of them.
In the minor championship, we’ve avoided having to play a preliminary round match but then our defence of the Tom Markham Cup will start with a tricky semi-final away to the winners of the Sligo/Galway tie. Given the crude backdoor system that operates in the minor championship – where both provincial finalists go straight through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals but anyone who loses prior to the final is out – this clash, most likely against the young Tribesmen, will – like it was this year – be a real do-or-die affair. Roscommon, meanwhile, have effectively been handed a bye straight through to the All-Ireland series as they only have to navigate their way past Leitrim in the semis to qualify for the provincial final and, with it, a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. That’s the way it goes, I guess.
The U21 championship is, of course, still of the old-fashioned variety, with no backdoor at all at all and we’ve got a tough nut to crack right at the outset here as we’ve been drawn to play Roscommon in the preliminary round. If we get over that one, then it’s Sligo in the semi-final and, most likely, defending U21 All-Ireland champions Galway in the final. We haven’t even got to a Connacht U21 final since we last won it in 2009 and it looks as if we’ll have to do it the hard way if we’re to come out on top in the province at this level next year.
Full details on the draws are available here.