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All Ireland Qualifiers: Ulster sides hope to draw comfort

There may be just three Ulster sides in the frame when the draw for the third round of the All Ireland football Qualifiers is made tomorrow night.

While Derry are expected to get past Westmeath tonight and Down should hurdle Longford, Cavan cannot feel too optimistic about their chances against Cork who are still favourites to win the All Ireland title in the eyes of many.

But with Armagh and Fermanagh due to cross swords in Enniskillen tomorrow, this means that at least one Ulster side is guaranteed to fall by the wayside.

The third round will see the names of the winners from this weekend’s eight second round ties go into the bowl for what will be an open draw.

And given that Cork, Dublin, Kildare and Galway are expected to be in the mix this means that both the quality and intensity of fixtures will be stepped up.

A fortnight today the fourth round of the Qualifiers will be staged when the third round winners will form one side of the draw with the beaten finalists from the four provinces forming the other side.

Already several county team bosses have expressed reservations about what they feel is the heavy programme of matches. Damian Cassidy (Derry), Kieran McGeeney (Kildare), John Evans (Tipperary) and Joe Kernan (Galway) have all made the point that the championship season as it is presently constituted tends to offer either periods of intensive action or protracted lulls.

Derry boss Cassidy says: “We had been inactive from our game against Armagh in the Ulster Championship up until last Saturday when we met Carlow and if we win against Westmeath we will be in action again next weekend. There is not much recovery time there but I suppose this is the price that any team has to pay if they are forced to go down the Qualifiers road.”

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