Early Deise reunion for Fitzgerald
Published 07/10/2011 | 05:00
Davy Fitzgerald won't have much research to conduct when he begins plotting for his first championship opponents as Clare hurling manager in 2012.
The script could have been written beforehand as Clare, set to officially install Fitzgerald on Tuesday night, inevitably drew Waterford, the team he cut his ties with just over three weeks ago.
It is a repeat of the 2010 Munster semi-final, when Fitzgerald, as Waterford manager, saw off his native county to take the easier route to the Munster final.
Fitzgerald will be one of four new managers in the province -- Waterford still have to make an appointment. And one of that quartet, John Allen, who is due to be ratified by Limerick early next week, faces the hardest task, with Tipperary and his native Cork on the Treaty men's side of the draw.
In Leinster, All-Ireland hurling champions Kilkenny were guaranteed a semi-final place, and their most likely opponents there will be Dublin.
In football, new All-Ireland champions Dublin have avoided Kildare, their biggest threat in the province.
Dublin, who are still sweating over the future of Pat Gilroy as manager, drew Louth or Westmeath in the quarter-finals, with Wexford their potential opponents in the semi-finals.
On the other side of the Leinster draw, it is almost impossible to imagine that Kildare and Meath will not be meeting in championship football for a fourth time in less than two years in the semi-finals.
In the Ulster SFC, Donegal face the hardest possible route to reclaim the title they won to end a 19-year famine in July. For the second successive year they have been drawn in the preliminary round, this time away to Cavan, which effectively guarantees that they will be launching the 2012 championship.
But even if they advance past Cavan, whom they beat in this year's semi-final by nine points, trouble is stacking up in front of them as the Ulster draw is as lop- sided as it has been for some time. Derry await them in the quarter-finals, with the winners of Tyrone and Armagh next up in the semi-finals if they keep progressing.
Potentially, Donegal will have to beat Cavan, Derry, Tyrone or Armagh and Down to reclaim their Ulster title.
Down boss James McCartan will be delighted with the draw. The Mourne men will play away to Fermanagh in the last eight, with the winners of Monaghan and Antrim awaiting in the semi-finals.
In Connacht, Galway and Mayo are on opposite sides of the draw, which will give new Tribesmen manager Alan Mulholland the reasonable target of reaching a Connacht final, despite having to play Roscommon in a quarter-final.
Kerry and Cork look destined to meet in a Munster semi-finals after they were drawn on the same side of the draw.
For the third successive year Kerry have Tipperary in the preliminary round, with Waterford, Limerick and Clare playing for the prize of a Munster final appearance on the other side.