Saffron Gael takes a look at the All County Football Leagues Division 1 & 2 so far
The football leagues are in respite for a time as they are inactive for a couple of weeks to give the county squad a time to concentrate on their upcoming date with Sligo on 17th June in the opening phase of the Qualifiers.
They will resume action on the domestic front with a scheduled list on Wed 21st June and in the first and second divisions they are in touching distance of the first phase with three more rounds until the ‘split’ when they will proceed until conclusion as A and B sections
The third division does proceed in home and away mode to the finish with no split.
The current holders of the division one title and custodians of the ‘Eddie Fitzsimmons memorial Trophy’, Erin’s Own Cargin lead the way again as they approach the split with St John’s and Creggan in close proximity.
John Brennan’s men recovered well from the early stages of the competition and an early defeat endured at their parish rivals in the second round when they lost out to Creggan.
The Toome men have proceeded without defeat since that setback although they had to work hard to share the points at Corrigan in round seven.
The Johnnies had remained without defeat at that juncture, but a trip to Creggan followed a few days later and a nine point reversal in that one saw them knocked of the top spot.
The Kickham’s men having started the season well did seem to lose confidence lately and a two point defeat on their own sod inflicted by St Gall’s preceded an eye opening failure at Shaw’s Road when a late flurry of scores saw St Paul’s come from off the pace to gain the verdict.
Cargin and St John’s are on 13 points apiece with the Erin’s Own outfit in front with a greater score difference whilst Creggan are on 12 points.
St Gall’s under the watchful eye of Sean Kelly seem to have more focus on the bread and butter issues in 2017 are most certainly in contention at the top and a healthy 11 points gained ensures such.
Hannahstown based Lamh Dhearg are also up there in contention as well with a 10 point haul and unless dramatic slip up those above in the top five slots will gain a berth in the A section following the split.
Casement’s are currently berthed in position six and the Portglenone men have certainly caught the eye of late as they earned a share of the spoils at Milltown in round eight before securing a six point verdict over St Paul’s last time.
The Bannsider’s have a game in hand with as a previous game fixed with St Teresa’s was postponed and remains to be rescheduled.
Jude Donnelly’s men are masters of their own destiny and are well enough staffed to gain a berth in the top section.
The A section will proceed in search of the league title for the outright winner, but as addition and as major bonus the top four finishers at conclusion will enjoy a seeded position in the draw for the 2018 senior championship.
Although just out of the top six at present the in-form Aldergrove who started badly and losing their opening five games emerged from their collective slumber to collect wins from their next three games.
They opened account with a home win gained over Rossa and followed with similar returns over St Teresa’s and Ahoghill.
The Crumlin men are just a point in arrears of Casement’s and their fixture as the Bannsider’s visit on July 9th may well prove most interesting indeed.
St Mary’s Ahoghill are a point in arrears of Aldergrove having lost out to the Crumlin men last time and they may well be in search of points to guarantee safety.
The Clooney men will look for a full return next time as they visit St Teresa’s and they must travel to Toome in the penultimate round before playing hosts to Creggan to conclude their programme.
Rossa with just a couple of wins thus far really need to pres the hurry up button soon if they look to the upward with their close neighbours St Paul’s on a similar return whilst just a single win and a drawn affair sees St Teresa’s linger at the bottom of the division at this time.
Three games remain but it is difficult to predict much in the way of change.
The second division similarly structures as to the first sees Glengormley based St Enda’s on top and indeed the Hightown residents have for the most part impressed.
They started in positivity but following a headlong charge from the blocks and four wins gained they failed to cope with the visiting All Saint’s when they paid a visit in round five.
The Ballymena visitors halted the home side’s run with a 2-08 to 1-09 verdict but in the event the Glengormley men quickly returned to the coal face with a round six 3-16 to 3-06 win at Dunloy before back to back verdicts gained over Ardoyne and St Comgall’s.
St Joseph’s Glenavy are in hot pursuit of the table topping St Enda’s and the Chapel Hill contingent hold second spot and just a point in arrears of the pace setters.
Glenavy did take a time to gain stride this term and indeed an opening defeat on their own sod as Moneyglass collected an away win and being held to a draw on their Chapel Hill arena by Rasharkin was less than impressive.
The St Joseph’s men did take flight thereafter however and having remained without defeat in the next five rounds they really look contenders.
Third spot is currently held by St Brigid’s and the South Belfast men really look confident this term.
The Biddies were disappointing in round one and again in round five when the endured defeats at home to St Enda’s and away to Glenavy respectively but they have impressed in the last four rounds remaining undefeated and racking up some huge scores in the process.
Moneyglass are holding fourth position and although the St Ergnat’s men have taken a big hit this term with several high profile retirements and emigration requiring the introduction of more than a few youngsters to senior ranks they seem to have taken the hit in their stride.
It did take a time, and the new look St Ergnat’s took a time to regain composure they do seem on the positive at the present and recent huge winning tallies tell a good tale.
St Mary’s Rasharkin currently dwell in 5th position and the men from Dreen do seem well on the way to a full recovery with four wins and a couple of drawn affairs ensuring the collection of ten points.
They did seem in serious strife this time last year when the dark cloud of probable relegation threatened but they stood tall in the face of adversity and five wins on the trot at the end of the 2016 season saw them emerge out of the darkness and save status.
They have continued in the same mode this term and a top six berth and a place in section A for the next phase looks likely.
All Saint’s have probably disappointed this term and are remaining quite enigmatic on occasions with a less than impressive nine points gained thus far
Having been the only side to have taken points from the table toppers St Enda’s this term most likely does point to a ‘could have done better’ mid-term report but the former first division side are capable of a top six berth and improvement in the second portion may beckon.
Cuchullian’s Dunloy started the season with a flourish and three wins gained from their opening four contests underlined capabilities a plenty within.
The dual club failed to continue in such mode however and the best they offered since those early days was to be a drawn affair with the Randalstown men after a 1-09 to 1-09 score recorded at home to Tir na Nog last time out.
A top six position is still within reach but Dunloy are a position behind at present a couple of points behind All Saint’s and just a point ahead of Tir na Nog.
Randalstown based Tir na Nog did start the current season well with three points gained from their opening couple of games but the Whitehill residents did seem to lose it for a term and a dawn affair at Dunloy in round seven was followed with a win over Gort na Mona last time.
They will be hoping that they can continue on the positive seeking upward movement and a place in the A section is possibly in focus.
Twinbrook based Michael Davitt’s seem to struggle to get it together but when a full compliment takes the field they can hold their own with the best in the division.
They are too close to the bottom for comfort however with just a couple of wins thus far and they need to gain the upward soon.
St Comgall’s Antrim did take a time to get it together in their new niche with last week-end’s win at Ardoyne their first of the current season
The Antrim men now berthed on the Dunsilly complex after celebrating promotion at the end of the 2016 season will be hoping the positive return will aid morale as they look to make addition.
Kickham’s from Ardoyne did impress last term when they took the division three title in stylish fashion.
The North Belfast side are struggling to consolidate however and they do require better if they are to gain progress in the short term.