We’re getting into the business end of the season, with two or three games to go for our various teams. And it’s getting ridiculously tight in places as we look for at least one title to bring home out of the three we’re in contention for. Here’s how we’re looking at present, starting with the first XIII –
Kilkenny don’t play again until after Bunratty, so for the time being, we’re sitting pretty in fifth! Relegation worries? What relegation worries?! Thomas leads the way on 5½/7, but is out of the running for what would be a first Armstrong board prize in many’s a year (a question for Gerry, that one). He is the 11th highest-scoring player in the Armstrong this year, behind such players as Oisín Benson (remember him?!) and Juri Firstov, who has still beaten everyone bar Thomas.
The Ennis are looking to bounce straight back from relegation, and it really couldn’t be much tighter at the top. Let’s take a look –
All those attacks which were mis-handled, or early draws taken when maybe we could have played on, or points dropped in time-trouble are coming back to haunt us now! Naomh Barróg – who won the O’Hanlon so convincingly last season that all bar one of their players got board prizes – have the bit between their teeth, especially after a 5-1 win over Kilkenny last week. In hindsight, we were steeped to face them first off; they’ve added a 1900 and two 1500s to the squad since. Drogheda have to travel to Kilkenny yet, which could be a massive game, and also have to play Aer Lingus and Elm Mount. We’ve to face the teams in bold, while Naomh Barróg play Bray, Elm Mount and Royal Lopez. This one will go right down to the wire. Ciarán needs 1½/3 for a board prize; he missed out on one in the promotion year when losing on the final day.
The BA – who play on Wednesday – have a nice cushion at the top:
Ballinasloe A played Blanchardstown on Saturday, while Portmarnock played Elm Mount last week; 5-0s are quite possible in both games. Even that’d leave us 1½ points clear of second and 4 points clear of third, with three games to go. A 3½-1½ win against Inchicore, a draw against Rathmines A and a 3½-1½ win against Rathmines B will be enough to guarantee promotion regardless of any other results. Brendan Cuffe is surprisingly the only player on course for a board prize, needing 1½/3 – with 6 players in the squad, a rotation system has meant that while everyone else is getting high percentages, they’ve missed a couple of games, which is effectively a loss for board prize purposes.
Finally, to the Bodley –
In the last couple of weeks, Balbriggan have been racking up the points – 4 against Naomh Barróg and 3 against Inchicore. Inchicore have to play Cavan, our As and Bray A. The Bs play Balbriggan next, while Rathmines Juniors play Cavan and Naomh Barróg. But really everyone bar Bray B is still in with a chance of promotion, and every game is going to be a 10-pointer. Both Dan and Odhrán need 1½/2 for a board prize, while Tom Kearney needs 1½/3. The table would look a lot nicer with 4½ against Bray B rather than the 3, but nothing we can do about that now!
Bar the BAs, it’s a break for Bunratty for everyone. But there’s plenty to play for when we get back!