Monday 26 June 2017

To be or not 2B - that's a tricky question

Stephen Rochford could be taking Mayo to Ballybofey, Clones or Pairc Ui Rinn on July 16. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Stephen Rochford could be taking Mayo to Ballybofey, Clones or Pairc Ui Rinn on July 16. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Counties pay little attention to whether they are placed on the A or B side of the draw for the All-Ireland football Qualifiers, since it only impacts on them if and when they are beaten in their provincial championships.

However, it can become very important, especially in a season like this when some favourites are toppled, as happened with Mayo in Connacht and Cork in Munster. Mayo and Cork are on the B side of the draw, paired with Fermanagh and Limerick respectively in the next round.

Kildare, Offaly, Longford and the losers of Donegal/Monaghan are also on the B side.

Mayo, Monaghan, Cork and Donegal are all priced in the top nine on the All-Ireland betting, whereas Tyrone are the only ones in that bracket on the A side, which also includes Cavan (who replay against Tyrone on Sunday), Meath, Derry, Laois, Armagh, Clare, Carlow, Sligo and Leitrim.

Effectively, the B side looks more difficult than the A route. It's likely that Mayo, Cork, the losers of Donegal/Monaghan and the winners of Kildare v Offaly will be paired in the 3A round.

And since the draw decides home advantage, it could be very tricky for all of them.

For instance, Stephen Rochford could be taking Mayo (assuming they beat Fermanagh on Saturday week) to Ballybofey, Clones or Pairc Ui Rinn on July 16.

And a win there would still leave Mayo facing a beaten provincial finalist to qualify for the All-Ireland quarter-finals. That's very unfamiliar territory compared to the last five seasons.

Irish Independent

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