The ideal game for Armagh

Thursday, 15 June 2017

WHEN the Qualifier Round One was made, their game against Fermanagh at home, for me, was the perfect game for the Orchard at this stage of the All-Ireland quest.

There is little between the teams, having played each other three times over the last three National League campaigns which saw each win one game and a draw in the third.

There is 'no baggage' between the counties and most people will view the game as a hard one to call, despite Armagh beating Fermanagh, who finished top on score difference in the league campaign of seven games, in the Division Three final of 2016.

Fermanagh were relegated from Division Two this season while Armagh lost out on promotion to Division Two in the last league game this season. Both teams will feel they have a lot to improve on for this game and so neither side will suffer from complacency.

On the day, it'll be a 'level playing field' with all to play for. Armagh and Fermanagh have been drawn in the 1B Qualifier section and for the winner, I feel it offers the 'easier' route to an All-Ireland quarter final.

The full Qualifier 1B draw is:

- Limerick v Waterford, Saturday, June 24

- Armagh v Fermanagh, 6.30pm, Sunday, June 25, Athletic Grounds

- London v Carlow, Sunday, June 25

- Westmeath/Offaly v Monaghan/Cavan, Sunday, June 25

The winners of the Armagh/Fermanagh will then find that the Section 'B' route is the easier in the hunt for a last eight All-Ireland quarter-final place. If, say, Armagh win they will be drawn against the 'loser' in one of the following provincial semi-finals - (thus 2B Qualifiers):

Ulster: Down/Monaghan or Cavan

Munster: Cork of Tipperary

Leinster: Dublin/Offaly or Westmeath

Connacht: Leitrim or Roscommon

The winners of these four '2B Qualifiers' will then compete as Qualifiers 3B in two games. The two winers of Qualifiers 3B will then be drawn against the runner-up in both the Ulster and Leinster Championship finals in Round 4B of the Qualifiers. By this stage there will be four overall qualifier winners and these four will be drawn against the four provincial champions in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Just to remind you of the Qualifier 1A draw, as follows (all on Saturday, June 17):

Waterford v Derry

Louth v Longford

Wicklow v Laois

Sligo v Antrim

Round 3B and Round 4B of the Qualifiers will be played on Saturdays, July 15 and July 20 respectively.

In the meantime, let's not judge Armagh until they finally exit the competition. I learnt much a long time ago from the adage 'If you judge people you rarely get to like them'.


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