A slice of history will be made on 16 May as the first ever Tailteann Cup draw is conducted at the new tournament's official launch.

For the GAA, the draw can’t really go much worse than the inaugural one for the Tommy Murphy Cup back in 2004.

Like the Tailteann Cup, it aimed to provide a serious tier-two championship but the reception was more ice-cold than lukewarm.

The draw was initially postponed to allow Cavan to come to a decision on their participation, and ultimately the Breffni County opted out as their players decided to focus on club commitments. That opened the door for Wexford to enter, but they also opted to give it a pass to deal with their own club congestion.

Leitrim decided to give it a miss too as the GAA were unable to meet their request to stage their first-round game on a Sunday.

That left five teams in the draw, but only four teams ended up competing as London withdrew ahead of their scheduled quarter-final with Clare.

John Kennedy’s Banner County would go on to win the competition, beating Sligo in the final at Croke Park and receiving a trip to Boston for their troubles, but there would only be five instalments of the competition in all.

At the 2008 GAA Congress, Wicklow club An Tochar’s motion to have those 'weaker’ teams regrouped with the qualifiers passed with flying colours.

Former GAA President Sean Kelly, who pushed for the Tommy Murphy Cup while in office, said after the cancellation that "one thing’s for sure - a number of counties failed to see the bigger picture".

How the Tailteann Cup teams view that particular picture remains to be seen, but up to 17 teams are expected to be in Monday’s draw. Any late withdrawals would be a genuine shock this time around. The new fixture calendar also ensures that it will not be battling with club championships.

Fifteen teams are already in the hat, and Westmeath and Tipperary will join them if they lose to Kildare and Limerick respectively this weekend. New York, who will almost certainly travel to Ireland for their clash, receive a bye to the quarter-finals. If the American outfit are drawn away to London, the fixture-setters have said they will assess the situation.

RTÉ football pundit Ciaran Whelan is apprehensive about what is in store.

"If you were to look coldly at it now, you'd probably be saying it’s the Tommy Murphy Cup in disguise again with the direction possibly we’re heading, which is disappointing," he told the RTÉ GAA Podcast.

"Obviously with the very compact season, everybody spoke about this second competition, how it was important for the weaker counties to develop and get games.

"Andy Moran touched on that, that he felt that a group system where they get three quality games rather than just going in and one game you’re gone...the biggest challenge for the weaker counties all the time is the turnover of players and players maybe going to America.

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"They don’t really get to actually develop players, work on their strength and conditioning, bring guys in, develop that consistency.

"If they’re going to take the step up to the next level, they have to have a proper competition. Everyone said at the start, everyone said it has to be promoted, it has to be marketed, it has to be given the same attention.

"The TV schedules probably don’t allow that because there’s such a compacted season. You have the US challenge in maybe young players travelling away and already some managers are saying they don’t know where they’re going to be at."

The launch next week should also provide further details on that expected media coverage - it has already been confirmed that RTÉ will screen both the semi-finals and the final - as well as plans for a north-south divide for the draw that should leave travel distances short in the first round.

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Those plans could become more complicated as Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo are excluded from a potential preliminary round as they reached their provincial semi-finals, while Westmeath and Tipp would also get a bye if they find themselves in the new competition.

One team with no parameters attached to who they can draw is London.

Fast-forward 18 years from that first scheduled Tommy Murphy clash, ultimately ending in a walkover for Clare, and the attitude of the Exiles has turned full circle.

Not only will there be no chance of a late withdrawal, but they even travelled to Fermanagh at the weekend - at a considerable cost - to play a warm-up game against the Erne County.

"We’re taking this very seriously, our heads are fully screwed on," London boss Michael Maher told RTÉ Sport.

"Our players are firmly focused on getting a result. We want to have a championship win to our name and this is a championship game.

"Every county in the Tailteann Cup is there for a reason, we’re Division 3 and 4 teams. In my opinion nobody has a God given right to be playing at a certain level of football if the here and now doesn’t warrant that.

"I know there are hard luck stories, and Fermanagh are one of them with that close shave [Sean Quigley’s disputed point] against Westmeath, but the point is any player or any manager worth their salt will be taking these games with the utmost seriousness and respect."

After their disappointing Leinster loss to Wexford, the Offaly players were given some time off and will resume training on Tuesday night.

Offaly boss John Maughan is excited about the competition

Faithful County boss John Maughan has said that while he will not know for sure until they reconvene as a squad, he has had no drop-outs and the mood seems to be very positive ahead of the new tournament.

The Mayo man has been left disappointed by some commentary - from sections of the media and players - in the lead-up to next week’s draw, not least from ace Down attacker Barry O’Hagan who remarked that he "had very little interest" in playing in it.

"I find some of the comments a little bit offputting for anyone hoping to promote the Tailteann Cup," he said.

"There is a little bit of negativity that has been coming from certain quarters that hasn’t been helpful.

"There was a good bit of promotion from the GAA recently though. I read that there’s going to be an All-Star selection [details to be confirmed] and there is going to be a trip away.

"That’s encouraging albeit a little bit late. It should have been announced months ago, particularly when young students might be looking over their shoulders at a trip to North America. If they had that kind of a prize in front of them they might say ‘hold on a second, this could be good to win.’

"I’m hopeful our guys will embrace it in a positive way, and I suspect we will. We will."

Sligo manager Tony McEntee has also been very enthusiastic and has said they will "embrace it fully" while Carlow boss Niall Carew feels that the GAA have a job on their hands selling it to the players.

As for the Mourne County, O’Hagan’s comments has left a bit of focus on how they approach the Tailteann Cup.

James McCartan’s side meet tonight for the first time since their Ulster quarter-final loss to Monaghan and, like Maughan in Offaly, maybe only then will the hunger become truly clear.

As one of the bigger name teams involved - they are sixth on the All-Ireland roll of honour alongside fellow Tailteann Cup sides Cavan and Wexford - their full commitment would be a great boon for organisers.

For now though, the mood music for the majority remains positive - and that should ensure a much better outcome compared to that Tommy Murphy Cup draw nearly two decades ago.

Confirmed entrants

Antrim, Carlow, Cavan, Down, Fermanagh, Laois, Leitrim, London, Longford, New York, Offaly, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow.

Tipperary and/or Westmeath will also enter if they lose their provincial semi-finals this weekend.

Draw format

New York advance straight to the quarter-finals.

Mikey Brosnan (L) and New York have received a bye to the last eight

Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan are excluded from any potential preliminary round clash on account of reaching their provincial semi-finals. Tipperary and/or Westmeath would be too if involved.

If Westmeath and Tipperary enter

Seventeen teams reduced to 15 after two preliminary rounds. In the first round, 14 teams - New York are not included - would play off to make seven quarter-finalists.

If either Westmeath or Tipperary enter

Sixteen teams reduced to 15 after one preliminary round. In the first round, 14 teams - New York are not included - would play off to make seven quarter-finalists.

If neither Westmeath or Tipperary enter

No preliminary round. In the first round, 14 teams – New York are not included – would play off to make seven quarter-finalists.


Preliminary Round – 21-22 May (if required)

Round 1 – 28-29 May

Quarter-finals – 4-5 June

Semi-finals – 18-19 June

Final – 9 July

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