Championship draw throws up familiar tale in Munster

There was little new for Munster football counties in last night’s 2019 Championship draw as Cork and Tipperary were pitted on the same side, as were Clare and Kerry on the other, for the fourth consecutive season.

A fourth Cork-Tipperary semi-final in a row is on the cards should Tipperary beat Limerick in their quarter-final, and it will the same for Clare-Kerry in the event the Banner beat Waterford in their opening Championship game with that would-be game taking place in Cusack Park.

Former Kerry forward Declan Quill sarcastically posted on Twitter: “Kerry to play Clare again in the Munster championship. Huge excitement............. outdated system.”

Tipperary’s Robbie Kiely and Cork’s Mark Collins do battle in the Muster SFC semi-final in Semple Stadium last May. The sides are on course for a fourth successive Munster semi-final meeting in 2019. Picture: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Cork and Kerry were rewarded with byes into separate semi-finals for reaching last year’s Munster final. Tipperary, in 2017, are the only team to have broken the Cork-Kerry monopoly on that semi-final bye since the stipulation was introduced in 2014 that the previous year’s finalists would receive preferential treatment the next season.

Kerry have not lost a Munster SFC game since 2012 when Cork beat them at the semi-final stage, their unbeaten provincial record under Éamonn Fitzmaurice extending to 13 games over his six seasons in charge.

Should Cork and Kerry progress to the final once more, the game will take place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh as Kerry still owe their neighbours a home Championship match as part of their home-away agreement as back-to-back Munster finals involving the pair took place in Fitzgerald Stadium.

New Waterford manager Benji Whelan may take solace from the fact the Déise’s last two provincial victories came against Clare in 2007 and ‘10.

Tyrone must begin their 2019 summer from the preliminary round of the Ulster championship where they face Derry. The draw for the northern province sees a host of derbies — as well as Tyrone-Derry there are Down-Armagh, Fermanagh-Donegal, and Cavan-Monaghan quarter-finals. The winners of Tyrone-Derry qualify for a last-eight match with Antrim and the team that progresses from there takes on Fermanagh or Donegal.

Reacting to the Down-Armagh draw, forward Connaire Harrison tweeted: “If a man like (Paddy) tally and a derby against Armagh can’t get the best in the county to commit to the cause then I don’t know a f**k #oldfirm”.

For the first time since 2014, Galway and Mayo have been drawn on opposites side of the Connacht SFC. Both will commence their summers abroad, Mayo travelling to New York in early May and Galway heading across the Irish Sea to face London in Ruislip.

Should Mayo advance, they face the winners of Leitrim and Roscommon in a semi-final likely threes week later and the winners of Galway and London clash with Sligo. The competition is expected to be played off over seven weeks.

The victors from the Louth-Wexford first-round match in Leinster have the unenviable job of facing Dublin in a Leinster quarter-final, a game which is expected to take place away from Croke Park.

Dublin’s fellow Super 8 team in Leinster, Kildare, are drawn on the same side as the All-Ireland champions and are in line to take them on in a semi-final.

As Leinster semi-finalists this year, Carlow have a rare bye to the quarter-finals where they await the winners of Meath and Offaly.

The team that progresses from that trio will oppose the winners of Westmeath and Laois.

Meanwhile, Kerry’s hurlers will open their Joe McDonagh Cup campaign with a trip to Antrim. They are on the road again for their next match, heading to Westmeath, before wrapping up against Laois and Offaly at home. Offaly, who were relegated from the Liam MacCarthy Cup this year, open up against Eddie Brennan’s Laois.

East to East — Midleton and Imokilly do battle in Cork

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