Let's hear it for the latest entrants to the qualifier waiting room: those vanquished Mourne mountain chaps. Down's inability to live with a resurgent Monaghan yesterday tips them into the same holding pen that we've been languishing in for three weeks now, one that's beginning to fill up nicely at this stage. We already know nine of the sixteen counties that'll be in the hata on June 24th (I'm assuming the draw will take place then, as we should, barring any more drawn games, know all sixteen by then) and the other seven should be revealed over the coming two weekends.
Need a quick recap? Okay, apart from us there's Longford, Westmeath, Kildare, Limerick, Armagh, Fermanagh, Cavan and the aforementioned Down. The losers of Meath and Dublin (that's the Dubs, mark my words) are set to join the party next weekend along with whoever comes off second best in the face-off between Donegal and Tyrone (the still-full ER situation in Tyrone has to mean that Donegal have a real chance in this one) and the losers of Sligo v Roscommon (which could be a close one, but you'd have to go for the Rossies to win it) and Wexford v Louth (probably the latter). The following weekend, the qualifier draw should be completed with the addition of the losers in the Galway v Leitrim, Louth or Wexford v Laois and Derry v Monaghan provincial semis. (Assuming Offaly lose to Meath or Dublin in the Leinster semi, they drop straight into the Tommy Murphy. If they win, there's a problem as it would mean there were 17 counties in the hat but let's ignore that for the discussion here). I'd reckon that Leitrim, Wexford and, probably, Derry will be the ones to slip up at this point.
Down's fate yesterday illustrates nicely the daftness of the current championship structure. They played Cavan twice before losing to Monaghan yesterday but they're now back at the same point as Cavan are. It gets even better: had they won yesterday and then went on to lose to Derry in the provincial semi, they'd have been tipped back into the same draw with two counties they'd already beaten in the Ulster championship. They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by just losing to Cavan at the first time of asking (way back on May 13th) and putting their feet up for a few weeks.