CORK will be in exalted company, when the draw is made for the first round of the new-look All-Ireland qualifiers.
The defeat by Kerry in the Munster semi-final means they will join All-Ireland champions Tyrone, runners-up, Mayo, and their fellow Division 1 side, Armagh.
Eight teams, those from Divisions 1 and 2 and knocked out of their provincial championships before the finals, will make up the first-round draw.
Clare will also be in the hat and they will be joined by the losers of next weekend’s games with the Munster semi-final between Tipperary and Limerick in Thurles on Saturday evening at 7pm carrying added significance.
That’s because Tipp, who will be in Division 3 next year, are currently ranked a Tailteann Cup team, but will bypass that competition should they qualify to meet Kerry in the final.
If that happens it will result in a preliminary round game to determine who will be in the first-round proper draw.
A Limerick victory, which is the expected outcome given their penalty shoot-out win over Clare last time out, would send Tipp to the Tailteann Cup and the Shannonsiders to round 2 of the Sam Maguire Cup competition.
The same situation applies for Westmeath, who take on Kildare in the Leinster semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday at 2.15pm, though this is likely to be a one-sided affair and the Lillywhites should progress without too much fuss.
The other semi-final at 4.30pm, however, is a much different proposition as provincial standard-bearers Dublin face great rivals Meath in a game which might provide a changing of the guard.
Either way, one of them will be in the hat for the first-round draw which further reflects just how competitive that is going to be, particularly as either Derry, who dumped Tyrone out of the Ulster championship, or Monaghan, who collide in the semi-final at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh on Sunday, will also be involved.
The Munster and Leinster finals will be played on Saturday fortnight at 3pm and 5pm respectively, the same day as the start of the Tailteann Cup with eight first-round ties.
The Connacht final between Roscommon and Galway and the Ulster decider involving Donegal will be played the following day at 1.45 and 4pm respectively.
Cork’s next outing will be a week later, Saturday, June 4, which is also the date for the Tailteann Cup quarter-finals.
Should Cork progress to round 2 they will meet one of the defeated provincial finalists while round 3 will see a return of All-Ireland quarter-finals for the first time since 2017 with the appearance of the four provincial champions.
Meanwhile, Cork minor footballers will be captained by Colm Gillespie (Aghabullogue) for the first defence of their Munster title against Kerry in Tralee tomorrow evening at 7pm.
He was left half-forward on the Munster championship winning side last year.
The vice-captain is Bryan Hayes (Nemo Rangers), who was also involved in 2021, when Cork overcame Waterford, Kerry, and Limerick en route to provincial success before losing to Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Manager Michael O’Brien (Ballincollig) has selected a 34-strong panel.
The winners qualify for the final while the losers meet Tipperary, who defeated Limerick by 1-14 to 1-4 in their round-robin final last Thursday, next week.
Nemo and Douglas supply four players each to the panel with Aghabullogue, Valley Rovers, Macroom, Clonakilty, and Kinsale doubly represented.
Cork panel: Josh Wood (Valley Rovers), Eoin O’Flynn (Douglas), Sean Og Kenneally (Kilara Óg), Colin Molloy (Nemo Rangers), Gearoid Daly (Mallow), Trevor Kiely (Doneraile), Kieran McCarthy (Carrigaline), Aaron Cullinane (Clonakilty), Tim O’Brien (Nemo Rangers), Conor Fitzpatrick (Kinsale), Aaron O’Mahony (Kilmurry), Mark O’Sullivan (Bantry Blues), Colm Clifford (Éire Óg), Shane O’Connell (Castlehaven), Hugh Linehan (Millstreet), James Burke (Douglas), Colm Gillespie (Aghabullogue), captain, Colm Geary (Kilshannig), Neville O’Leary (Douglas), Alan O’Connell (Kilshannig), Gearoid Kearney (Kinsale), Aaron O’Sullivan (Aghabullogue), Edward Myers (Naomh Abán), Darragh Gough (Clonakilty), Olan O’Donovan (Ibane Gaels), Bryan Hayes (Nemo Rangers) vice-captain, Sean Coakley (Douglas), Ben O’Sullivan (Adrigole), Darragh O’Donovan (Bishopstown), Seán Mac an tSaoi (Valley Rovers), Mark Kelleher (Mallow), Robert Quirke (Ballinora), Artjoms Petrov (Nemo Rangers), Aidan Kelly (Clyda Rovers).