Local derby to start new club season

�Mark Pearce/ Presseye 8thApril     2011  Press eye Northern Ireland  _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo  Mark Pearce/Presseye''Carling Premiership 'Newry city FC v DOnegal Celitc FC  @ Showgrounds Newry ' Donegal's Ryan Henderson  celebrates his goal with team mates. '  Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce /
�Mark Pearce/ Presseye 8thApril 2011 Press eye Northern Ireland _____ Mandatory Credit - Photo Mark Pearce/Presseye''Carling Premiership 'Newry city FC v DOnegal Celitc FC @ Showgrounds Newry ' Donegal's Ryan Henderson celebrates his goal with team mates. ' Mandatory Credit Photo Mark Pearce /

CLANN na Gael and Clann Eireann will clash on the opening day of the new club season in front of what could prove to be one of the biggest crowds to be seen at the Francis Street venue for a number of years.

With the first round of games in the 2012 club season pencilled in for April 1, with a 2pm throw in time, some supporters are already suggesting that the clash of Lurgan’s big two should be played in the evening to attract a maximum crowd.

With other local Division 1 outfits, namely Wolfe Tones and Sarsfields both travelling to south Armagh to face Crossmaglen and Killeavey respectively, many neutral supporters would love to see the derby between the Lurgan rivals.

The realignment of the all county leagues will see a new three division structure, St Peter’s, St Paul’s and Eire Og will all compete in the second flight.

Although Clann Eireann will be looking forward to their opener against Clan na Gael, the chances of having their star attacker Ryan Henderson on board for any of their games is highly unlikely.

The former Armagh player, who attempted to balance his Irish League career with Donegal Celtic last season with his commitments to Clann Eireann, told the ‘MAIL’ that he may have to pull the plug on any involvement in Gaelic games.

He said: “It was so hard last season to do both, on one particular occasion I had to travel from Belfast following an Irish League game to play for Clann Eireann in a championship game against Crossmaglen. All of that can take its toll so my involvement in Gaelic games this year could be limited.”

Another recent development could further cement the local man’s thinking on this particular issue, Henderson has confirmed that Linfield have officially approached Donegal Celtic - who are currently considering terms and conditions surrounding a potential transfer to Windsor Park.

If successful this would halt any GAA involvement from the player.

All three divisions this season will be played on a one way basis with the leagues splitting into two sections after all games have been completed, the top two teams in each group will play off for the title of league winners, and the top two sides in the “bottom half” will contest a shield final.

Three teams will be relegated from the top two flights each season.

Another big crowd puller this season will be the clash of Wolfe Tones and the Sarsfields in Division 1.

Following the opening games on April 1 no club games will take place on Sunday, April 8, but following the Easter break teams will play four games in 11 days with two of those matches pencilled in for Wednesday, April 11 and 18.

Pre season training for many clubs in Armagh has become more and more hectic in modern times, a club player told the ‘MAIL’ he was looking forward to the new season starting to “get a rest”.

The new league format looks interesting and although it will be best judged at the end of the new season the structures look fair and balanced.