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Down, Antrim, Fermanagh and Cavan hoping the Tailteann Cup brings some joy

Tailteann Cup

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Second chance: Much has changed since Down and Cavan met in the Ulster SFC back in 2020. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

Second chance: Much has changed since Down and Cavan met in the Ulster SFC back in 2020. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

©INPHO/Matt Mackey

Short trip: Kieran Donnelly takes his Fermanagh side to play Longford. Credit: Donnie Phair

Short trip: Kieran Donnelly takes his Fermanagh side to play Longford. Credit: Donnie Phair

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Second chance: Much has changed since Down and Cavan met in the Ulster SFC back in 2020. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

In almost all the assessments around the launch of the Tailteann Cup, the one message that came from those uneasy about a second-tier football competition was that the GAA needed to promote it sufficiently.

There’s a holiday for the winners up for grabs, along with a mooted All-Star scheme, which is all nice and well. But the easiest thing to do would have been to stage the final on the same bill as the All-Ireland decider. And the excuses offered as to why that cannot be are paper-thin.

Promises of media coverage have, however, been met by the GAA, who put on a bells and whistles launch in Croke Park with representatives of all the teams and chances to interview London and New York players.

But essentially, it’s up to each county to approach this in the right frame of mind.

Down have had a dreadful season, full of off-pitch controversy. They are coming up against the favourites for the tournament in Cavan. The staging of the game, however — a 2pm throw-in this afternoon in Breffni Park — seems counter-productive and a crowd of 3,000 seems like a wild aspiration.

Given their showing against Donegal, Cavan will be eager for this one.

Antrim, who were the last winners of the previous incarnation of a second-tier competition in the Tommy Murphy Cup, travel to Leitrim. The Saffrons are down a number of players through injury. The hectic fixture-scheduling in the county has been most unkind to manager Enda McGinley.

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Ulster involvement is concluded by Fermanagh’s short journey over to Longford this evening.

Many felt that they were too weak when it counted to stop Tyrone in Brewster Park, but Derry boss Rory Gallagher left that game with the unmistakable feeling that he spotted enough in the Fermanagh performance to sense that Tyrone were vulnerable against his own side.

Manager Kieran Donnelly was part of an Erne team that won the All-Ireland B that launched them to higher expectations. 

There is an interesting clash between Sligo and London. In Division Four, Tony McEntee’s side had 18 points to spare in round four which brought an end to London’s first three wins.

London have prepared well for this, even travelling over to Enniskillen for a challenge match against Fermanagh a couple of weekends back, and it will be competitive.

Elsewhere, there are two all-Leinster tussles between Laois and Westmeath, with the latter the stronger of the two based on their league meeting (a 2-11 to 0-11 win for the Lake County in round two of the National League). Laois suffered relegation and morale is low.

Offaly — relegated from Division Two — meet Wicklow, who dropped out of Division Three, in Tullamore. The league standings still have some relevance in a meeting of this kind.

Finally, Carlow host Tipperary, whose momentum has stalled, but could still manage a victory against a Carlow team that have completely lost their way recently.


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