Sides all face tough challenges in the year ahead

IN last week’s ‘MAIL’ we analysed what the new season may have in store for the local sides.

Wolfe Tones, Clann Eireann and Sarsfsfields will all face tough challenges in the first division but in the other sections can Clan na Gael win promotion at the first attempt, will St Peter’s stay in the second division and will Eire Og and St Paul’s be safe in division three?.

In 2012 all of the local clubs will be hoping to build on some great work both at senior and youth level, so what would be the possible odds regarding promotion and relegation?

Here are the stats on the four remaining clubs.

CLAN NA GAEL - The Clans won just three games in last season’s division one campaign and will need to win around 15 this season in division two to be sure of promotion.

But a retutn to their home ground will come as a welcome boost.

The Clans will find things a lot different than when they last faced the drop. This time they don’t have the services of Diarmaid Marsden and Barry O’Hagan as was the case in 2005.

But only four teams in division two look capable of winning the title.

Armagh Harps, who have some good minors coming through, Shane O’Neills, Silverbridge and Clan na Gael are all in with a shout but Carrickcruppin, depending on their mindset and the availability of players, could slide even further.

Judging the Clans on their under 21 championship performances they would appear to have enough good young talent coming through to top the second division.

The influence of the older hands like Colin Treanor, Mickey Austin and Conor McCaffrey will be crucial.

With Stephan Campbell on board for the entire season the Blues would be odds on to hop straight back to the top flight but the county management might have a big say in Campbell’s career this season.

With a steady ship the Clans should be good enough to win the second division or at worst finish second. It could however be a tough slog from start to finish. Possible league odds 9\4 favourites, possible relegation odds 66\1.

ST PAUL’S - In 2011 St Paul’s parted with their management team and finished up in mid table in division three.

The Teghnevan side have some cracking young players coming through the ranks and their under 21s were useful last year.

Against Tir na nOg in the championship the Lurgan side would possibly have needed an Andrew Murnin playing in all positions.

St Paul’s look too good to go down and don’t appear strong enough to be promoted in 2012. A similar league position to last season could be expected. Possible league odds 10\1, possible relegation odds 8\1.

ST PETER’S - The Whites were promoted along with Grange and won the third division in the process.

Although their successful management pairing of Gerard Doran and Collie Keegan have stepped down the team will be well looked after in the hands of Steven McVeigh.

They did decently well in the championship over the last couple of seasons and did enough in games to show that they are a maturing side.

The Freecrow outfit will be looking forward to renewing rivalry with Clan na Gael and considering that the bottom half of the division contains a lot of winable games St Peter’s should have enough youth and exuberance to consolidate their division two status.

Although both Paul Brady and David Wilson could commit for another year, Aaron Findon along with his former Armagh minor team mates Sean O’Neill and Niall McConville will lead the younger players at the club. Possible promotion odds 16\1, possible relegation odds 9\2.

EIRE OG - Consolidating their position in the third division this season will be crucial for the Pinebank club who will be playing in the Intermediate Championship.

To be taken seriously the Ogs will need to finish mid table in 2012, build on their good form last season and they have every chance of doing so.

Their big pool of players will be crucial in a tougher campaign. The Ogs, under the new regime of Mickey Devlin and Oliver Cormican, will certainly be fit enough and have a captain in Alan Wilson who can lead his side to better things.

The Pinebank club’s policy of rotating players between first and second strings worked well last season and with the club’s minor squad currently training with the seniors a long term strategy would appear to be in vogue at the Craigavon club.Possible league odds 16\1, possible relegation odds 8\1

Predictions for 2012:

Division one winners, Crossmaglen, runners-up, St Pat’s, Cullyhanna; relegation contenders, Wolfe Tones, Whitecross.

Division two winners Clan na Gael, runners-up, Armagh Harps; relegation contenders, Keady, Grange.