Sense of deja vu with the usual four taking dominant positions across the provinces

All the usual suspects in the race for the Sam Maguire Cup are tipped to be among the teams contesting the All-Ireland semi-finals during the summer
Sense of deja vu with the usual four taking dominant positions across the provinces

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifts the Sam Maguire Cup once again and the outstanding goalkeeper is fancied for a repeat in August. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

IT’S all too familiar isn’t it? 

Dublin to reign in Leinster, Kerry in Munster, Mayo in Connacht and Tyrone in Ulster.

Mind you, it was different in last season’s deep-winter championship with Tipperary and Cavan upsetting the odds, but you get the drift.

And that feeling of ‘we’ve been here before, haven’t we’? looks set to continue if the four provincial championships follow anticipated lines and provide the usual suspects in finals.

Neither Tipp nor Cavan are considered major contenders after this week’s series of draws handed the pair difficult games which could bring their seasons to an abrupt finish.

Tipp’s opponents, Kerry, will also have the benefit of a first-round encounter with Clare for the sixth time in eight seasons while the holders will be heading in cold, making their task all the more challenging.

The Ulster championship will once again provide most of the thrills and spills with Tyrone, under new management in Feargal Logan and Brian Dohher, taking over from Mickey Harte, the 2/1 favourites to replace Cavan as champions.

The pair will set the competition alight at the quarter-final stage in the more difficult side of the draw, which has the winners facing one from Down-Donegal-Derry.

The bookies quote Cavan 14/1 to retain their title, which reflects the enormity of the challenge because even if Cavan somehow get past Tyrone, then more than likely it will be Donegal confronting them in the last-four.

On the other half of the draw Monaghan and Armagh will be expected to progress to the semi-finals without too much fuss against Fermanagh and Antrim respectively.

It could leave Ulster with Tyrone, Donegal, Monaghan and Armagh battling it out for places in the final. Now that’s what you call a championship!

On the flip side, Leinster is set to be the complete opposite once again as Dublin chase their 11th title consecutive title.

Wicklow or Wexford will be first up in the quarter-finals after which the semi-final draw will be made, but it will hardly make much difference.

This will be Ronan McCarthy’s fourth championship campaign as Cork boss and his provincial record is played six, winning three and losing three.

They’ve played Kerry three times, winning dramatically in last season’s semi-final with Mark Keane’s sensational goal deep into extra-time and losing the finals of 2018 and 2019, both at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Cork met Tipperary twice under his stewardship, impressing in the 2018 semi-final, when compiling 1-17 in an 11-point victory, but losing last season’s final by 0-17 to 0-14.

It was a golden opportunity missed by Cork, who lost out on a first Munster title since 2012 and just as significantly, an All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo at Croke Park.

Limerick were Cork’s other opponents in McCarthy’s term, but the Shannonsiders conceded three early goals and were on the receiving end of a 3-18 to 0-6 drubbing.

New Waterford manager Shane Ronayne, the Mitchelstown man who guided Mourneabbey and Tipperary Ladies Football teams to national glory, gets to plot Limerick’s downfall and the prospect of trying to out-wit with McCarthy in the semi-final.

The draws are: MUNSTER: Quarter-finals: Clare v Kerry and Waterford v Limerick.

Semi-finals: Tipperary v Clare or Kerry and Cork v Waterford or Limerick.

Betting: 1/6 Kerry, 4/1 Cork, 12/1 Tipperary, 100/1 Limerick and Clare, 200/1 Waterford.

CONNACHT: Quarter-final: Mayo v Sligo. Semi-finals: Mayo or Sligo v Leitrim and Galway v Roscommon.

Betting: 4/6 Mayo, 13/8 Galway, 7/1 Roscommon, 150/1 Sligo and Leitrim.

LEINSTER: R1: Offaly v Louth, Wicklow v Wexford, Carlow v Longford.

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

Betting: 1/100 Dublin, 20/1 Meath, 25/1 Kildare, 50/1 Laois and Westmeath, 100/1 Offaly, Louth, Carlow and Longford, 500/1 Wicklow and Wexford.

ULSTER: Preliminary round: Down v Donegal. Quarter-finals: Armagh v Antrim, Monaghan v Fermanagh, Tyrone v Cavan, Derry v Down or Donegal.

Semi-finals: Armagh or Antrim v Monaghan or Fermanagh; Tyrone or Cavan v Derry or Down or Donegal.

Betting: 2/1 Tyrone, 9/4 Donegal, 4/1 Monaghan, 5/1 Armagh, 14/1 Cavan, 20/1 Down, 25/1 Derry, 100/1 Fermanagh, 250/1 Antrim.

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