Who will your county be playing in 2013?
We have hardly had time to catch our breath from the 2012 season – we’re pretty sure supporters in Kilkenny and Donegal in particular haven’t – but the 2013 season began tonight in earnest.
By Declan Whooley
In what seems a ridiculously early time to be deciding on who plays who next summer, the draw took place tonight in Croke Park and threw up some interesting pairings.
All-Ireland finalists Galway and Kilkenny have been kept apart in Leinster, with Galway facing the winners of Antrim, Westmeath and Laois. The other side of the draw appears far more competitive.
Offaly have the daunting task of taking on the All-Ireland champions with the winners facing either Wexford or Dublin in the semi-final.
Davy Fitzgerald will once again renew rivalries with Waterford in the Munster, though Eoin Kelly’s retirement might lessen the verbal fisticuffs on the sideline. Or maybe not.
The winner will face Jimmy-Barry Murphy’s Cork in the semi-final, while Eamonn O’Shea will begin his stint in the Tipperary hotseat against and Limerick in the other semi.
Preliminary Round: Antrim v Westmeath
First Round: Antrim/Westmeath v Laois; Carlow v London
Quarter-Finals: Antrim/Westmeath/Laois v Carlow/London; Offaly v Kilkenny; Wexford v Dublin
Semi-Finals: Galway v Antrim/Westmeath/Laois v Carlow/London; Offaly/Kilkenny v Wexford/Dublin
Quarter-Final: Clare v Waterford
Semi-Finals: Clare/Waterford v Cork; Tipperary v Limerick
Donegal will begin their defence of Sam Maguire with Tyrone providing the opposition, the team they beat by two points in last year's Ulster semi-final. The winners will face whoever emerges victorious between Derry and Down, while Armagh and Monaghan would fancy their chances of meeting in the other semi-final.
In Leinster, 2011 All-Ireland champions Dublin will face the winners of Westmeath and Carlow in the quarter-final in what will be Jim Gavin’s first taste of championship action as manager. The winners will face Offaly or Kildare in the semi-final, while on the other side there are two preliminary games with Wicklow taking on Longford and Laois versus Louth. Meath and Wexford await the winners of those two games.
In the Connacht Championship, James Horan will hope there will be no hangover from the All-Ireland defeat as they face great rivals Galway in the preliminary draw. The winners will take on Roscommon, while Leitrim will travel Stateside to face New York. London make the trip to Markievicz to face Sligo in the other quarter-final.
Finally in Munster, kingpins have been kept apart. Eamonn Fitzmaurice will face Tipperary in his first game as Kerry manager, while Clare will face the winners of Cork and Limerick in a draw that will keep the traditionalists. In Kerry and Cork anyway.
Roll on next May!
Preliminary Round: Cavan v Armagh
Quarter-Finals: Fermanagh v Cavan/Armagh; Antrim v Monaghan; Derry v Down; Donegal v Tyrone
Semi-Finals: Fermanagh/Cavan/Armagh v Antrim/Monaghan; Derry/Down v Donegal/Tyrone
Preliminary Rounds: Wicklow v Longford; Laois v Louth; Westmeath v Carlow
Quarter-Finals: Wicklow/Longford v Meath; Laois/Louth v Wexford; Westmeath/Carlow v Dublin; Offaly v Kildare
Semi-Finals: Wicklow/Longford/Meath v Laois/Louth/Wexford; Westmeath/Carlow/Dublin v Offaly/Kildare
Preliminary Rounds: New York v Leitrim; Sligo v London; Galway v Mayo
Semi-Finals: Galway/ Mayo v Roscommon; New York/Leitrim v Sligo/London
Quarter-Finals: Cork v Limerick; Kerry v Tipperary
Semi-Finals: Cork/Limerick v Clare; Kerry/Tipperary v Waterford