Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Ulster’s All-Ireland hopefuls prepare for long hard road

Derry, Donegal, Tyrone and Monaghan will be in the draw for the All Ireland Qualifiers on Sunday.

And none of the four teams have the slightest cause for complacency given the overall strength of the line-up.

Indeed it was not so many weeks ago that the thought of so many Ulster's leading lights being in the Qualifiers at this early stage would have been inconceiveable.

However this is the exact reality that they find themselves there because of their inadequacies in the Ulster Championship.

With Meath, Kildare, Laois and Limerick among the other sides in the mix, it can be clearly seen that the Ulster teams are certainly going to face a tough battle, if they hope to regain pride and prestige.

Indeed, the Qualifiers have become a graveyard for ambitions.

Teams often having insult added to injury with a quick exit following their expulsion from their provincial campaign.

It's seven years since the Qualifiers came into being and since then the competition has taken on a life of its own.

It has proven a hard road in the past £ Tyrone were involved in ten matches overall before they won the All Ireland title in 2005 £ and teams are certainly geared for battle.

Meanwhile, Galway hurlers are taking to the skies for their hurling championship opener against Antrim, taking the quickest option of a return flight from Carnmore to Belfast on Saturday for the 3.30 throw-in in Casement Park.

However Joe Canning is unlikely to make his long-awaited championship debut in the match and manager Ger Loughnane is likely to also be without another of his best freetakers.

Canning has only had one training session in recent weeks after he got blood poisoning in his leg and was then subsequently hit with a dose of 'flu.

And now Ger Farragher is now extremely doubtful after he pulled his hamstring at training last Saturday.

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