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Ulster aces braced for appetising encounters

The names of five Ulster teams will be in the hat when the draw for the first round of the All Ireland Football Qualifiers is made next Sunday evening.

Derry, Antrim, Donegal and Armagh will be joined by the losers of Saturday’s Cavan v Fermanagh tie in the mix which will also include Carlow, Longford, Offaly, Kildare, Wicklow, Tipperary, Clare, London, Mayo, Meath or Laois and Dublin or Wexford.

The Meath v Laois and Dublin v Wexford games are due to take place next Sunday and while Meath and Dublin are expected to advance in the Leinster Championship, the series of unexpected results over the course of last weekend has forced pundits to exercise rather more caution in relation to their predictions.

And the inclusion of sides such as Mayo, Derry, Kildare, Donegal and Armagh, all of whom had been expected to make rather more progress in their respective provincial championships lends substance to the belief that some appetising ties may ensue.

Antrim reserved one of their best performances of last year for the first round of the Qualifiers when they just lost out to eventual All Ireland winners Kerry while Donegal made up for their lapse in the Ulster Championship by storming to wins over Carlow, Clare, Derry and Galway in the competition until they were halted by Cork on a 1-27 to 2-20 scoreline in the All Ireland Championship quarter-finals.

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Casement Park will host the first Ulster SFC semi-final between Tyrone and Down on Saturday, June 19 which has a 5.15 throw-in to suit live television.

The venue for the second semi-final, on June 27, will be decided by the quarter-final result between Cavan and Fermanagh this weekend.

If it is a Monaghan/Cavan clash it will be played in Clones but if it is Fermanagh against Monaghan it will be in Kingspan Breffni Park.

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