Donegal and Down have been given the onerous task of having to win four games to claim this year’s Ulster senior football championship.
As they hadn’t been drawn in the preliminary round in the previous two years, Declan Bonner and Paddy Tally’s sides were among five who could have been pulled out of the bowl to play at the first stage of the provincial competition - Antrim, Armagh and Fermanagh were the other three.
Although Cavan and Donegal have claimed the Anglo-Celt Cup from the preliminary round in recent years (2020 and ‘18), the gauntlet is made tougher by the knock-out nature of the championship.
The winners of the Down-Donegal clash will face Derry in the quarter-finals where the defending champions Cavan have been given a difficult draw against Tyrone, now managed by Fergal Logan and Brian Dooher.
Armagh face Antrim, now coached by another former Tyrone player Enda McGinley, in the last eight while Monaghan clash with Fermanagh. Monaghan are unlikely to have Seamus McEnaney on the sideline for that draw as he is expected to be serving a 12-week ban.
The Ulster SFC final is scheduled to take place on August 1 and the winners will face the Munster champions in an All-Ireland semi-final on the weekend of August 14/15.
Down v Donegal.
Down or Donegal v Derry; Armagh v Antrim; Monaghan v Fermanagh; Tyrone v Cavan.