JACK O’CONNOR AND Mickey Harte will face off in the glamour clash of round three of the All-Ireland senior football qualifiers after Kerry and Tyrone were drawn to meet in this morning’s draw.
The clash which will take place next weekend sees Kerry enjoy home advantage in the standout tie of the round. The draw, which was conducted on RTE’s Morning Ireland programme by GAA Director-General Padraic Duffy and former Dublin football Ciaran Whelan, also sees Kildare set to entertain Limerick, while Tipperary will face Antrim and Leitrim hosting Laois. The draw has also been made for round four of the All-Ireland football qualifiers, a stage when the beaten provincial finalists enter the competition.
July 21st/22nd – All-Ireland SFC Round 3: Kildare v Limerick; Tipperary v Antrim; Kerry v Tyrone; Leitrim v Laois.
July 28th/29th – All-Ireland SFC Round 4: Kildare/Limerick v Sligo; Tipperary/Antrim v Losers of Donegal and Down; Kerry/Tyrone v Clare; Leitrim/Laois v Losers of Dublin and Meath.
Here’s a breakdown of the four All-Ireland SFC Round 3 ties.
Kildare v Limerick
After all the controversy and publicity that ensued over yesterday’s tie against Cavan, Kildare will be glad to be back focusing on football. Home advantage is a huge help as they prepare to face Limerick in the counties first championship qualifier meeting since Kildare triumphed by three points when they clashed in the Gaelic Grounds in 2008.
It’s a very difficult tussle for Limerick but they showed great mental fortitude on an away trip to a Leinster county over the weekend as they dug out an extra-time success over Longford. Kildare will be pleased to have avoided fellow heavyweights Kerry and Tyrone, and will be favored to advance here. An interesting subplot will be the presence of former Lilywhites defensive star Brian Lacey in the Limerick management ranks as he is a coach to Maurice Horan’s side. Sligo boss Kevin Walsh will be monitoring events in Newbridge with interest.
Tipperary v Antrim
Both counties will be happy to have avoided the big three of Kerry, Tyrone and Kildare, and Tipperary will be even more pleased to have been granted home advantage. Playing in familiar surroundings is of major assistance in the qualifiers and avoiding the long trek to Belfast is a big plus for Peter Creddon’s side. They have showed good form in recent weeks in defeating Offaly and Wexford, and have vital momentum at their disposal.
But Antrim will not be lacking in confidence themselves after dumping Galway out of the championship last Saturday. There’s a huge opportunity here for both sides to advance to the last twelve and given that would be there facing a team attempting to recover from the hangover of an Ulster final defeat, there is plenty at stake in next weekend’s tie.
Kerry v Tyrone
The marquee match and one that bristles with potential. The qualifiers are in operation since 2001 but there has never been as tantalizing a round three pairing as this, with two counties who have won seven of the last nine All-Ireland titles between them, coming face to face. There should be a huge crowd in either Killarney or Tralee for this game and this Kerry team will surely relish the chance to finally address their record of not having defeated Tyrone in a championship clash.
Home advantage is a major plus for Jack O’Connor’s team in the wake of the scare they received yesterday in Mullingar against Westmeath. They will need to improve but having a massive task like this is more beneficial in focusing minds and improving their performance levels than if they had been drawn against weaker opposition. After nearly dislodging Donegal in Ulster and then emphatically defeating Roscommon on Saturday, Tyrone will travel south without fear and in a positive start. It should be a cracker but spare a thought for Munster finalists Clare who will have to tackle whichever big gun emerges from this fight.
Leitrim v Laois
The novelty of the qualifiers continued over the weekend with Leitrim finally experiencing the sensation of victory in the backdoor stages. And after defeating Wicklow, they will be happy with this draw as well. Getting to play in Carrick-on-Shannon is a major boost and they could have faced more daunting opponents that Justin McNulty’s Laois team.
A Division 4 side tackling a Division 1 outfit would still suggest that Laois will emerge and they will be particularly satisfied with their form in removing Monaghan from the championship scene yesterday. That game saw them show marked improvements on their previous success over Carlow. However traveling away makes this a tricky assignment and they will need to be in the right frame of mind. The prize for the winners is a tilt at the losers of next Sunday’s Leinster final between Dublin and Meath.