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Backdoor Route

Mayo's tricky draw, Cork's recovery and other football draw talking points

Mayo and Cork have the chance to get their All-Ireland campaign back on track.

1. Mayo’s first qualifier in six years fraught with danger

MAYO ARE IN the last chance saloon and this second round qualifier against Fermanagh will really test their mettle. 

Stephen Rochford’s men, who were dumped out of the Connacht championship by Galway, meet a steely Fermanagh outfit who made the All-Ireland quarter-finals in 2015.

Mayo were widely criticised for the manner of their defeat to the Tribesmen. Only an All-Ireland title will satisfy this group but they’ll have to be on their guard against the Ernesiders, who are not short on quality or belief.

Mayo set up very defensively against Galway with Kevin McLoughlin used as a sweeper and Keith Higgins operating on the half-forward line. Fermanagh are well used to taking on defensive systems, but Mayo need to show the sort of intensity, focus and ruthlessness that has served them so well in the past.

Kerry won the All-Ireland through the back-door in 2009 but they scraped past Longford, Sligo and Antrim to make the quarter-finals. Fermanagh are an entirely more difficult proposition to those teams.

Mayo might have stumbled into their best-case scenario for delivering Sam in the qualifiers, but they’ll need to improve their performance levels significantly to stay in the hunt.

Peadar Healy dejected Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

2. Cork’s chance to build momentum

The Rebels have been quiet since they crashed out of the Munster championship to Tipperary.

After a disastrous start to the Munster semi-final, a spirited fightback against Tipp, albeit an ultimately unsuccessful one, gives hope that there’s still life in this Cork side. Limerick lost out to neighbours Clare at the quarter-final stage in Munster and they look to be going through a rebuilding phase.

This draw provides Cork with the chance to build some form and momentum. Peadar Healy’s squad have an uphill battle to shake-off their reputation as underachievers. Beating Limerick would be a good start.

Michael Quinn during the national anthem Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

3. Longford face a tough task

Longford’s reward for a thrilling extra-time win over Down is to face the losers of the Donegal-Monaghan replay away from home.

On the plus side for Longford, whichever Ulster kingpin drops into the qualifiers will have only seven days to prepare for the second round qualifier.

Longford produced an impressive scoring performance to end Down’s season but they’ll face an altogether more difficult examination of their forward play in the next round.

Longford carry a reputation for springing a surprise in the back door, with Derry their victims two years ago.

Daniel Flynn and Graham Guilfoyle contest a high kickout Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

4. Kildare-Offaly the hardest one to call

Kildare and Offaly also met at this stage last year, with the Lilywhites advancing by 1-15 to 1-13. Offaly are building steadily under Pat Flanagan and finished just two places behind table toppers Kildare in the Division 3 table.

The Faithful lost by a point to Westmeath, who went on to beat Kildare by the same margin in the Leinster semi-final. Offaly booked their spot in this morning’s draw with a comfortable win over London.

The manner of Kildare’s second-half collapse against Westmeath will worry Cian O’Neill bu they’ve  beaten their neighbours twice already this year.

Here’s a recap of the draw. The first team named are at home.

All-Ireland SFC Round 2B
Mayo v Fermanagh
Donegal/Monaghan v Longford
Kildare v Offaly
Limerick v Cork

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Mayo and Cork discover opponents as All-Ireland football qualifier Round 2B draw is made

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