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Q&A: When do the All-Ireland SFC & Tailteann Cup draws take place and how will they work?

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The draws for the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship (SFC) and Tailteann Cup will take place next Tuesday afternoon.

Most counties already know which competition they will be participating in over the coming weeks, but for some their fate will only be decided after this weekend’s games.

When do the draws take place?

The draws for the group stages of both competitions will take place next Tuesday, beginning at 3pm, live on gaa.ie and the GAA’s social media channels.

Where is my county in all of this?

There are 13 teams already locked in for the All-Ireland SFC – Kerry, Clare, Mayo, Galway, Derry, Dublin, Tyrone, Donegal, Armagh, Roscommon, Monaghan, Cavan and Meath.

There are 14 teams confirmed for the Tailteann Cup – Waterford, London, Tipperary, Carlow, Longford, Wexford, Leitrim, Laois, Limerick, Wicklow, Antrim, Sligo, Fermanagh and New York. Alan O’Mara’s New York will enter the competition after the group stages, when they will play a preliminary quarter-final against one of the second-placed sides.

There are six teams with uncertainty hanging over them this weekend – Westmeath, Kildare, Louth, Offaly, Cork and Down.

Cork, Louth and Westmeath currently occupy the remaining three spots in the competition for Sam Maguire – though results this weekend could see any of Down, Kildare or Offaly snatch a place.

With rankings determined by league finishing positions, Westmeath (as the 15th team) are most at risk of dropping out of the All-Ireland.

But didn’t Westmeath get promoted from Division Three?

They did indeed, but a provincial final spot supersedes everything. The eight provincial finalists are guaranteed a spot in the All-Ireland series, as are the previous year’s Tailteann Cup winners (Meath). Outside of those nine teams, the next seven highest ranked sides at the conclusion of the National League make up the remaining places.

Westmeath and Down got promoted from Division Three, and so technically are the 15th and 16th teams respectively in relation to league standings.

However, if a county outside of that top 16 advances to a provincial final then they are immediately fast-tracked to the All-Ireland SFC – with the lowest ranked team getting pushed down to the Tailteann Cup. That has already happened Down this year, with Clare’s progression to the Munster SFC final seeing them make the cut for the Sam Maguire Cup, but at the expense of Conor Laverty’s side.

Westmeath beat Down in the Division Three final, so that left the Mourne Men as the 16th ranked team at that stage. Dessie Dolan’s Westmeath are now the most vulnerable.

What are the significant games this weekend?

Offaly v Dublin / Kildare v Louth / Armagh v Down.

So Westmeath, Louth and Cork all face a nail-biting weekend?

Westmeath certainly do, potentially Louth also, but Cork less so.

For Westmeath to be demoted from the All-Ireland SFC, only one of Kildare, Offaly or Down need to win.

Louth’s destiny is very much in their own hands, if they beat Kildare at Croke Park on Sunday then the Wee County will have guaranteed their Sam Maguire participation. But if Louth were to lose to Kildare, and one of Down or Offaly win, then Ger Brennan’s men would be playing in the Tailteann Cup.

Cork can only be dumped out of the All-Ireland competition if there is an unlikely series of results – including Offaly beating Dublin and Down overcoming Armagh.

How are the teams seeded?

For the All-Ireland SFC, the four provincial champions will be first seeds, the four losing provincial finalists will be second seeds, the next four highest ranked teams in the league will be third seeds, followed by the next four highest ranked teams as fourth seeds. Meath, the 2023 Tailteann Cup winners, will be in pot four.

The Tailteann Cup seeding system is similar – starting with the four highest ranked teams, who have not qualified for the Sam Maguire competition, as first seeds. The second, third and fourth seeds follow that metric.

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