All-Ireland SFC 2022 fixtures: Tyrone face preliminary clash with Fermanagh

In Munster, Kerry take on Cork while Mayo meet Galway in Connacht

Tyrone’s Cathal McShane celebrates with the Sam Maguire after they beat Mayo to win the All-Ireland last year. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Tyrone’s Cathal McShane celebrates with the Sam Maguire after they beat Mayo to win the All-Ireland last year. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

As far as these things go, the GAA couldn’t have asked for much more than the draw for the 2022 football championships gave them on Saturday afternoon. Big teams drew big teams, a few simmering pans were put on the stove to come to the boil around Easter time and there was even a nice shard of daylight aimed at the inaugural Tailteann Cup. The 18 weeks between now and then ought to fly by.

The headline act, at least for now, are All-Ireland champions Tyrone. In drawing Fermanagh in the Ulster preliminary round, they will be the first All-Ireland champions to have to start their defence on the very bottom rung of the Ulster championship since 2004. They walloped Derry in Omagh on that occasion - this time around, they will have to travel to Brewster Park to face Kieran Donnelly’s outfit.

“It’s a big, big challenge but Ulster is always a dogfight,” said Tyrone co-manager Feargal Logan on RTÉ Radio on Saturday after the draw was made. “I presume we’ll be heading to Brewster Park so that’s a tough place to go and if you went down the line worrying about the road after that, you’d give up altogether. So we’ll get through the league and we’ll take it in small chunks after that. The first chunk will be Fermanagh and that’s the only way to look at it.”

Timing is likely to be a recurring theme throughout the winter. Next year will be the first officially split season, with all intercounty duties scheduled to be wrapped up and put away by July 24th. This means that the launch date for the 2022 championship is Easter weekend, April 16th/17th.

Should Tyrone - or indeed Division Three hopefuls Fermanagh - reach a league final, they will have to balance the fullness of their throttle for it with the fact that they are out in the championship a fortnight later. Not to mention the fact that they will have Derry next up should they come through it and that winning Ulster will mean playing four games in six weeks.

It’s going to be a trolley dash, whoever wins it. The Ulster draw is a pretty even one this time around, with Donegal and Armagh facing off in the quarter-final on one side of it and this year’s finalists Tyrone and Monaghan due to meet in the opposite semi-final, if both are able to pick their way through the usual minefield. The usual terms and conditions apply.

In Connacht, the two biggest beasts are tangled up in each other again, this time from the first day out. Galway and Mayo have been drawn together in the quarter-final stage for the first time since 2018, with the winners set to meet either Leitrim or London in the semi-final. Roscommon are the big winners out west, avoiding the big two until the final and only having a semi-final against either Sligo or New York to negotiate to get there.

Most eye-catching in the Munster draw is clearly the meeting of Cork and Kerry in the semi-final. Not so much because it pits the two giants of the province together but more because of what it means on the other side of the draw. By the time the summer comes around, anything up to all four of Tipperary, Clare, Limerick and Waterford will be outside the top two divisions, depending on how the league works out for them. Whoever makes it through to the Munster final will stay in the qualifiers rather than playing for the Tailteann Cup. One to keep an eye on.

As ever, Leinster provided the fewest morsels of interest. The time-serving penance of the early rounds will play out with new managers going head to head when Billy Sheehan’s Laois meet Colin Kelly’s Wicklow. The Glenn Ryan era in Kildare will begin with a quarter-final against either Louth or Carlow, while Dublin’s presumed cakewalk to a 4000th Leinster title in a row starts against either Offaly or Wexford.

Ulster SFC

Preliminary round

Fermanagh v Tyrone

Quarter-finals

Derry v Fermanagh/Tyrone

Donegal v Armagh

Antrim v Cavan

Monaghan v Down

Munster SFC

Quarter-finals

Tipperary v Waterford

Clare v Limerick

Semi-finals

Kerry v Cork

Tipperay/Waterford v Clare/Limerick

Leinster SFC

First round

Louth v Carlow

Laois v Wicklow

Offaly v Wexford

Quarter-finals

Dublin v Offaly/Wexford

Meath v Laois/Wicklow

Kildare v Louth/Carlow

Westmeath v Longford

Connacht SFC

Quarter-finals

New York v Sligo

London v Letrim

Mayo v Galway

Semi-finals

Roscommon v Sligo/New York

London/Leitrim v Mayo/Galway

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