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Explainer: Here's what you need to know ahead of the 2015 GAA draws tonight

The draw for next season’s SHC and SFC takes place tonight at 7pm on RTÉ 2.

Michael Lyster with the Sam Maguire and the Liam McCarthy Cup Source: James Crombie/INPHO

IT’S HARD TO believe, but we’ve barely shut the door on the inter-county GAA season and the focus immediately switches to next year. The draw for the 2015 All-Ireland senior football and hurling championships takes place tonight, so we’ve taken a closer look at the format and possible permutations.

Tune in to RTÉ 2 at 7pm for live coverage of the draw as Marty Morrissey and Michael Lyster are joined by a panel of guests. Before then here’s what you need to know:

The Football draw

MUNSTER

Number of counties involved: 6

Reigning champions: Kerry

A new format has been approved for the Munster SFC which will come into effect next summer. Kerry and Cork will receive a bye into the last four of the competition because of they made the final last year, while Waterford, Limerick, Clare and Tipperary enter an open draw for the two quarter-final ties.

The two winners of those quarter-final games will then enter an open draw for the semi-finals along with Cork and Kerry. Whatever two sides make the final will be seeded in the last four in 2016.

Paul Kerrigan and Paul Murphy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT

Number of counties involved: 7

Reigning champions: Mayo

Ahead of tonight’s draw we already know two games that will be taking place. Galway will travel Stateside to take on New York, while Roscommon will play London in Ruislip, both in the quarter-finals. Another quarter-final will take place between two of Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim with the other county receiving a bye to the semi-finals.

ULSTER

Number of counties involved: 9

Reigning champions: Donegal

Notoriously the most difficult province to navigate through, Ulster is a minefield of potentially tricky ties. Donegal have dominated over the past four years, but that could be about to come to an end after Jim McGuinness’s departure. The most straightforward of the provinces, Ulster is unseeded and will consist of one preliminary round and then four-quarter finals.

Colin Walshe with Darach O'Conor Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

LEINSTER

Number of counties involved: 11

Reigning champions: Dublin

A round robin system looks set to be introduced into Leinster from 2016 onwards, so this may well be the final season under the current format. Last year’s four semi-finalists – Dublin, Wexford, Kildare and Meath – receive a bye to the quarter-finals where they cannot meet one another.

To start off, there are three preliminary games for a place in the last eight, which will be played between six of Wicklow, Laois, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath, Louth and Carlow. One of that group receives a bye to the last eight but are unseeded.

The Hurling Draw

MUNSTER

Number of counties involved: 5

Reigning champions: Cork

The Munster SHC consists of just five counties – Tipperary, Cork, Clare, Waterford and Limerick – where two sides are drawn to face-off in a quarter-final. The winner of that last eight clash will join the other three Munster teams in the semi-final pairings.

All-Ireland finalists Tipperary haven’t won a game in the province since they last won the Munster title in 2012, while Cork will be hoping to retain their crown

Cork and Limerick players walk behind the band Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

LEINSTER

Number of counties involved: 9

Reigning champions: Kilkenny

The Leinster SHC will feature a four-team round-robin Qualifying group – consisting of  Antrim, Laois, Carlow and Westmeath - with the top two sides earning the right to progress to the quarter-finals.

Last year’s Leinster champions Kilkenny will receive a bye to the semi-finals while Galway, Wexford, Dublin and Offaly start off in the quarters.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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