Saturday 19 October 2019

Dublin face away clash against Westmeath as 2020 Leinster SFC quarter-final draw made

Brian Fenton, right, and Brian Howard of Dublin celebrate after the Leinster SFC final win over Meath at Croke Park last June. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Brian Fenton, right, and Brian Howard of Dublin celebrate after the Leinster SFC final win over Meath at Croke Park last June. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Frank Roche

Dublin's 'search for six' in 2020 will open with a Leinster SFC quarter-final against Westmeath.

This will be a repeat of the 2015 and 2016 provincial finals, which Jim Gavin’s outfit won by margins of 13 and 15 points respectively.

However, Dublin’s most recent championship clash with Westmeath - a 31-point rout in 2017 – puts the challenge facing Jack Cooney’s midland underdogs in even more stark perspective.

The five-in-a-row All-Ireland champions will be chasing a tenth consecutive Leinster title, and they are unbackable odds-on favourites to complete the task.

Maybe this explains why there was just as much interest, in today’s draw on RTE’s Morning Ireland, in the fate of Kerry duo Jack O’Connor and Paul Galvin.

O’Connor, newly installed as Kildare manager, will launch his Lilywhite summer reign with a quarter-final against the winners of Carlow and Offaly.

Meanwhile, Galvin’s first foray into inter-county management will see his new Wexford charges pitted against Wicklow. The winners of that first round clash will face Meath at the quarter-final stage.

The other quarter-final will see Laois tackle either Louth or Longford.

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This year’s championship draw format represents a change on two fronts. Firstly, the football draw has been split over several mornings: the Munster and Connacht pairings will be revealed tomorrow with Ulster on Wednesday.

Secondly, the Leinster Council has decided to postpone the semi-final draw until after the quarter-finals are played.

Apart from adding some early-summer intrigue, presumably this is aimed at ensuring that counties stay motivated and aren’t scared away by the sobering realisation of a potential early date with the Dubs.

In truth, the autumnal anticipation that used to surround the provincial championship draws has long since ebbed away, especially in Dublin’s Leinster SFC fiefdom.

The shock defeats to Laois in 2003 and Westmeath in 2004 are a long-faded memory. Dublin have won 14 of the subsequent 15 Leinster championships, including a five-in-a-row (‘05-09) and now a record-breaking nine-timer, starting in 2011.

2020 LEINSTER SFC DRAW

First round: Carlow v Offaly, Wexford v Wicklow, Louth v Longford,

Quarter-finals: Carlow/Offaly v Kildare, Wexford/Wicklow v Meath, Louth/Longford v Laois, Westmeath v Dublin.

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