Right, just wanted to start a dedicated thread to the greatest of all provincial championships, so anyone who doesn't like Nordies, stay clear!!
As can be seen above, we're kicking off with the 'Big Weekend' , which is probably the equivalent of Sky’s ‘Super Sunday’ where Man United play Hull and Chelsea play Bournemouth, as both matches have a distinctly underwhelming feel to them.
These games feature two of the three leading contenders for the Ulster Championship – Monaghan and Donegal – and both have home games against opposition that would be considered outsiders – Fermanagh and Antrim. Anything beyond two home wins here would be a major surprise.
The third of the top three – Tyrone – travel to Celtic Park next week. This would probably represent the biggest threat to the top three in their opening games, but unless Derry can pull a rabbit from the hat, then it is likely that Tyrone will progress with a degree of comfort.
Thereafter, Armagh travel to Down. For a long time it looked like we would be swapping places in the league, with us getting promoted to Division 2 and them getting relegated to Division 3, but a couple of late shocks saw both team remain where they are. I think it will be a tight enough game between two evenly matched, albeit poor enough, teams.
The full fixtures list reads as;
Sat 20th May First Round (7.00pm):
(a) 1. Muineachán V 2. Fear Manach at St Tiernach’s Park (Replay 27th May)
Sun 21st May Quarter Final (4.00pm):
(c) 6. Dún na nGall V 7. Aontroim at Pairc MacCumhaill (Replay 27th May)
Sun 28th May Quarter Final (2.00pm):
(b) 4. Doire V 5. Tír Eoghain at Celtic Park (Replay 3rd June)
Sun 4th June Quarter Final (2.00pm):
(d) 8. An Dún V 9. Ard Mhacha at Pairc Esler (Replay 10th June)
Sun 11th June Quarter Final (2.00pm):
(e) 3. An Cabhán V (a) Muineachán / Fear Manach (Replay 17th June)
If An Cabhán V Muineachán at Kingspan Breffni Park
If An Cabhán V Fear Manach at Brewster Park
Sun 18th June First Semi Final (2.00pm):
(b) Doire / Tír Eoghain V (c) Dún na nGall / Aontroim (Replay 25th June)
Sat 24th June Second Semi Final (7.00pm):
(d) An Dún / Ard Mhacha V (e) An Cabhán /Muineachán/Fear Manach (Replay 1st July)
Sun 16th July Senior Football Final (2.00pm) (Replay 23rd July)
The likelihood is therefore that Monaghan will play the winners of Donegal and Tyrone in the Ulster Final. Who comes out on top will probably come down to whether or not what we saw during the league was a genuine reflection of the teams’ respective abilities, or was there – as Tommy Lyons might have suggested - a bit of arse boxing going on.
My guess is that Donegal will beat Monaghan in these year’s Ulster Final..but sure what do I know!!