Minor miracle is required to avoid drop

AS things stand at the foot of Division One in the Armagh All County League it will take a minor miracle to stop Wolfe Tones, Clann Eireann and Na na Gael facing the drop to the second flight.

The Tones for their part had been destined for relegation, from a long way out the Derrymacash side despite showing a lot of determination in the championship had a forgettable year in division one securing just one win throughout the season. As for Clann Eireann their defeat against Dromintee last Sunday has left them facing an uphill battle even though they have still two matches remaining.

Clan Na Gael are the third local team to facing relegation, the blues have completed all of the league games, but Carrickcruppin, who are one league point behind the Francis Street men, still have four outstanding fixtures to complete. Essentially should Carrickcruppin win two of their four remaining games then the three Lurgan clubs will be playing in the Second Division in 2013.

If the scenario had arisen that both Clann Eireann and Clan na Gael won last weekend the Lurgan clubs would still have been depending on Carrickruppin dropping points in their remaining games, Clan na Gael for their part may realise that a bad run of form can sometimes also bring bad luck. Last Saturday against Sarsfields the home side missed enough chances to win two games, also had disallowed what appeared to be a certain goal and also had a penalty saved by hoops Stephan Campbell.

The Clans were always going to struggle for scores against Sarsfields who had gained a healthy lead but appeared to take their foot off the pedal. The Hoops also lost a player near the end when Paul McGeown was sent off for a second bookable offence, but the former Armagh minor player made no mistake from the penalty spot in the first half to give Trasna a lead which they never lost. Ironically under the new league regulations set in place by the Armagh competitions controls committee, clubs who finish in the second flight at the end of next season will automatically play in the Intermediate Championship the following year, which could result in Clann Eireann, Wolfe Tones and indeed Clan na Gael playing in the middle tier championship in 2014 if promotion is not achieved next season.

Next Sunday already relegated Wolfe Tones will play Sarsfields on their recently refurbished ground at Derrymacash, the game between the two local rivals should still pull a big crowd and irrespective of league positions the Tones would still be looking to finish the season on a high with a win over the Trasna men, who may be encouraged to withdraw from their end of season winding down role to claim the bragging rights over their neighbours. While some supporters from within both the Clan na Gael and Clann Eireann club may see competing in a compulsory Intermediate Championship as being a backward step, other clubs such as Maghery, Sarsfields and most recently Killeavey have all benefitted from the move which can build confidence among players on the back of with a winning run. Next season a host of local derbies could see St Pauls, Eire og, Clan na Gael, Wolfe Tones and Clann Eireann all battle for league points. St. Peter’s however would still have aspirations of joining Sarsfields in the top flight next season.