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A tough draw is just what the Ulster counties needed

By Declan Bogue

The draw made on RTE's Morning Ireland on Tuesday morning couldn't have gone better for the Ulster sides involved. Those outside a team will always look to those counties further down the food chain and league standings, and pray that their side gets a home draw, to stretch the summer out a little longer if nothing else.

But within a team, strong characters think different.

Like the time defending All-Ireland champions Armagh were misfiring in the 2003 qualifiers, having been rooted out of Ulster by those Monaghan upstarts.. They went on a mini-tour of the hurling counties, breezing past Waterford and scraping past Antrim, before being drawn in round three against Dublin.

Steven McDonnell's phone hummed with a text message (remember them?) from Aidan O'Rourke when the news came through; 'The one we want. The one we need.'

In 2011, and in his final year of county football, Armagh were drawn away to Tyrone, a game they had scant chance of winning.

In conversation with McDonnell the week before, he stated that if they were good enough to be in the tournament, then they had to take on a serious team.

Armagh and Fermanagh have a pairing that will ensure training for the rest of the week means a bit more to them. Likewise, Antrim know they are in for a test away to Sligo, a side they beat in the National League.

Derry are the one side you sense are glad to draw one of the minnows of the game in Waterford, although, given how they almost put Cork to the sword two weekends ago, you have to fear for Damian Barton.

Meanwhile, an injury sustained in Dromore's league match against Urney has put defender Ronan McNabb out of contention for Tyrone's Ulster semi-final against Donegal.

And at a meeting of the Central Competitions Control Committee in Croke Park, Dublin forward Diarmuid Connolly was handed down a 12-week ban from an incident during their Leinster Championship match against Carlow, when he remonstrated with Down's Ciaran Branagan, who was linesman.

It is likely that Dublin will seek a hearing as Connolly could be out until a potential All-Ireland final.

Belfast Telegraph

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