There’s been some confusion about the qualifier draw so it was good to hear Colm Keys of the Irish Independent provide a clear and succinct outline of it on the latest episode of the podcast. If you haven’t yet listened to this pod, it’s available here and Colm’s explanation of the draw gets underway at the 2:55 mark.
The qualifier draw is set to be held this coming Monday morning and it will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio One in the sports bulletin spot on Morning Ireland after 8.30am.
If Kildare beat Westmeath and Limerick beat Tipperary in their respective provincial semi-finals this weekend, then there’ll be eight teams in the pot for Round 1 of the qualifiers. Assuming that this is the case then it’s a straightforward open draw, with the first teams drawn in each match pairing having home advantage.
Round 1 ties are set to be played on the weekend of 4/5 June, with the four winners advancing to Round 2 the following weekend, where each of the Round 1 winners will be paired with a losing provincial finalist.
If, however, either Westmeath or Tipperary (or both) win their provincial semi-final(s) this weekend, then there’ll need to be preliminary round in the qualifiers, due to the fact that one (or two) of the Sam Maguire slots will then be occupied by a team (or teams) that would otherwise have been playing in the Tailteann Cup.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say one of Westmeath or Tipp win this weekend then the counties that get tipped as a result into the preliminary round draw on Monday morning are those who didn’t make it as far as their provincial semi-final. Those counties are Armagh, Clare, Louth, ourselves and Tyrone.
If one preliminary round tie is required, two of those five teams will be pulled from the hat, if two ties are needed then four of them will be. Both the preliminary draw (if required) and the Round 1 draw will be made on Monday morning. If a preliminary round is required, it’ll be played on Saturday 21st May, i.e. a week tomorrow.
This means that Mayo supporters will be taking greater than usual interest in this week’s provincial action in Leinster and Munster. Realistically, Kildare are pretty much nailed on to beat Westmeath but a Tipperary win over Limerick wouldn’t be an enormous shock at all.
If such an outcome, however, resulted in a preliminary qualifier round draw next Monday morning that saw us paired away to the likes of Armagh or Tyrone the following Saturday in the preliminary round of the qualifiers then that would be pretty seismic. I think we can all agree that’s a fate we’d like to avoid if at all possible.