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Cunningham's Dubs to face Tribesmen in SHC opener

GER CUNNINGHAM must hit the championship ground running after his Dublin charges were paired with Galway at the quarter-final stage of next year's Leinster SHC, writes Frank Roche.

But it wasn't all bad news for the capital's new small ball supremo, as the winners of this eye-catching opener will avoid the poisoned chalice that is Kilkenny. Instead, Brian Cody's All-Ireland champions will face either Wexford or the round-robin group runners-up. Whoever advances from the Dublin/Galway fixture will be hotly fancied to overcome Offaly or the preliminary group winners.

In Munster, Clare and Limerick face the toughest route with the winners of this facing a tough semi-final against All-Ireland finalists Tipperary.

On the football front, Dublin's odds on another Leinster five-in-a-row will have further shortened after last night's draw.

Jim Gavin's hurting troops have a quarter-final opener against Offaly or Longford, with the winners of Kildare or Laois (presuming the latter see off Carlow) next in line. No doubt the move to play Dublin out of Croker versus Offaly/Longford will begin immediately.

Meath, who open against Wicklow, look the likeliest to emerge from the weaker side of the draw.

Ulster gets off to a mouth-watering start, with a preliminary round clash between Donegal and Tyrone on the nightmare half of the draw, with a revitalised Armagh next up.

In Munster, even with the reintroduction of an open semi-final draw, heavyweight duo Kerry and Cork have been kept apart. Eamonn Fitzmaurice's new All-Ireland champions will open their defence against either Waterford or Tipperary.

Mayo's likely semi-final opponents are Galway in their quest for a fifth straight Connacht title.



Qualifier Group: Laois, Antrim, Carlow, Westmeath. BOWL 1: Galway, Dublin, Offaly, Wexford

Quarter-finals: (A) Dublin v Galway; (B) Offaly v Qualifier Group winners; (C) Wexford v Qualifier Group runners-up

Semi-finals: Q-final winner B v Dublin or Galway; Kilkenny v Q-final winner C


Quarter-final: Clare v Limerick

Semi-final: Waterford v Cork; Tipperary v Clare or Limerick


Quarter-finals: Waterford v Tipperary; Clare v Limerick

Semi-finals: Clare or Limerick v Cork; Kerry v Waterford v Tipperary


Preliminary round: New York v Galway

Quarter-finals: London v Roscommon; New York or Galway v Leitrim

Semi-finals: London or Roscommon v Sligo; New York or Galway or Leitrim v Mayo


Preliminary round: Donegal v Tyrone

Quarter-final: (1) Armagh v Donegal or Tyrone; (2) Cavan v Monaghan; (3) Fermanagh v Antrim; (4) Derry v Down

Semi-finals: Cavan or Monaghan v Fermanagh or Antrim; Armagh or Donegal or Tyrone v Derry v Down


First round: Offaly v Longford; Laois v Carlow; Louth v Westmeath

Quarter-finals: Offaly or Longford v Dublin; Laois or Carlow v Kildare; Louth or Westmeath v Wexford; Wicklow v Meath