Kingdom's prospects are boosted by quarter-final draw
Kerry's prospects of reaching the All-Ireland football semi-finals have been greatly enhanced by the quarter-final draw, which pairs them with opposition against whom they have a great record.
The rejuvenated Kingdom will play Galway, Sligo or Tipperary in the last eight on the first weekend in August, arising from the preordained arrangement attached to this year's adjusted qualifier draws. Mayo's quarter-final opponents will be Cork, Sligo or Tipperary.
The actual pairings will be decided after the Galway v Tipperary and Cork v Sligo Round 4 games on Saturday week. Mayo v Galway and Cork v Kerry pairings cannot recur in the quarter-finals, since they have already met in provincial finals.
If Cork and Galway win their qualifier ties, the quarter-final pairings will be Kerry v Galway and Cork v Mayo. Despite their big defeat by Kerry in the Munster final, Cork are 1/12 favourites to beat Sligo.
That appears a much harder task than the one facing Kerry: between them, Galway, Sligo and Tipp have failed to beat Kerry in their last 48 attempts in the championship.
Tipp have lost their last 41 clashes with Kerry; Galway have lost four and drawn one of five ties since their last win over them in the 1965 All-Ireland final, while Sligo have lost twice to the Kerry in the championship, most recently in 2009, when they were beaten by a point in a qualifier tie.
The other side of the All-Ireland draw is less advanced as the Leinster and Ulster finals have yet to be played, as well as Round 3B qualifiers (Roscommon v Armagh and Clare v Kildare). The winners of those qualifiers will play the beaten Leinster and Ulster finalists in the next qualifying round.
The qualifier draw was divided into A and B sections this year, with teams knowing in advance on which side they were headed. The new system was designed to create greater fixture certainty for counties, enabling them to play more club games.
"It has certainly given more balance to the qualifier programme, but we'll have to wait until later in the year to find out if it helped the club scene," said Fergal McGill, GAA head of games.