Cavan host Down with away draws for Antrim and Fermanagh in Tailteann Cup
DOWN'S 2022 gets no better after the Mournemen were drawn away against Cavan in the first round of the new Tailteann Cup.
The other Ulster sides involved, Antrim and Fermanagh, must also travel, but both will fancy their chances of progressing past Leitrim and Longford respectively on the last weekend of this month.
None of the four Ulster teams were eligible for the preliminary round matches, which ended up pairing Wexford v Offaly and Wicklow v Waterford in games to take place this coming weekend.
The winners of those preliminary round ties will then meet in one of three southern first round matches, the others being Carlow v Tipperary and Laois v Westmeath. New York have been granted a bye straight into the competition's quarter-finals.
Down were playing at a higher level than Cavan in this year's League, but the Breffnimen earned promotion up to Division Four and were fairly impressive in their Ulster SFC semi-final loss against Donegal, whereas the Mournemen were well-beaten by Monaghan.
Down manager James McCartan has since seen a number of players withdraw from his squad, so the Blues must be fancied to progress.
Antrim had a good Division Three campaign, ending up fourth, but will have to bounce back from a disappointing display against Cavan at Corrigan Park in the Ulster SFC.
Leitrim, under the management of former Mayo star Andy Moran, were hammered in Connacht by Galway, losing by 4-20 to 0-9, having finished fourth in Division Four.
Fermanagh performed pretty well at home to Tyrone in the Ulster Preliminary round and their manager Kieran Donnelly is an advocate of this competition.
The Ernemen won well down in Longford in round four of Division Three, by 3-11 to 1-10, and finished a point above the midlanders - but Pearse Park can be a tricky place to go come Championship time. Longford exited Leinster with a 3-13 to 0-14 loss away to neighbours Westmeath in Mullingar.
Wexford v Offaly; Wicklow v Waterford
First round - northern section:
Longford v Fermanagh; Leitrim v Antrim; Sligo v London; Cavan v Down
First round - southern section:
Wexford/Offaly v Wicklow/Waterford; Carlow v Tipperary; Laois v Westmeath.
* New York go straight into the quarter-finals.