A quick round-up of how each of our six teams are faring at the half-way point of the season.
Starting at the bottom, and the O’Sullivan have given themselves every chance of making the promotion play-offs after beating Blanchardstown in the last match before Christmas. The top two in both groups will progress to a play-off – carrying forward their result against the team in their own group, which would be a 4½-½ hammering for us unfortunately – and 7 points from the last two matches should be enough to see us through. Of course, the flip side of that is that a defeat in either game would have us in serious trouble. Both our next two opponents have already lost to Blanch, whom we’ve beaten, but of course things are hardly likely to be that straightforward! Liam Kelly is the top scorer on 2/2, including a potentially vital win against Blanch’s board 1, who was third in the bottom section of Kilkenny. Our last two games are both home games – every little advantage may ultimately help us!
For reasons unknown, the Bodley didn’t have a fifth round before Christmas, even though it started around the same time as the other leagues this year. So we’re only four rounds in here, but still, the table looks nice enough for one of our teams! The As have their eyes on nothing less than promotion, and currently top the table after four big wins so far. Jack, Desmond, Luke-Andrew, William and sub Seán are all on 100% scores, with Desmond in particular targetting a board prize (the others have all missed games, which makes it that bit harder to reach the board prize target of 8½). We don’t play any of the top four until round 9, so the hope is we’ll be able to continue racking up some big wins to give us a cushion going into those games; Curragh, Malahide and Enniscorthy all play each other in the coming three rounds.
It’s a different story for the Bs, who have played most of the bottom half and are just three points above the drop. A 5-0 defeat to our own As didn’t help of course, but as the Bs have the As’ fixtures one round in advance, it means we also don’t play any of the top teams until the last rounds. So we’ll be looking at racking up a few points in the coming games against Naomh Barróg, Rathmines B and Blanchardstown and hoping it’ll be enough to see us through to the end of the season! Aodhán Keane is the Bs’ top scorer on 2/2. On the table below, the As have yet to play the teams in italics; the Bs have to play the teams in bold.
The O’Hanlon have had an up and down season so far. We’ve scratched four boards so far having had problems getting a full team out (against Skerries, we tried 15 players and only got a team of 3!), but in between, we’ve had solid wins over Inchicore and Portmarnock. A 6-0 whitewash against Skerries dropped us from the cusp of the promotion battle to the brink of the relegation fight in one fell swoop! But even though we’ve most of the top half yet to play, if we get a full team out, we should be in no danger of going down, and we’re still looking at building a promotion-challenging team for next season. Eddie Gahan has almost mathematically relinquished his Top Scorer trophy already; he’s one of five players on 1½, half a point behind the team’s top scorer, Stephen Cunningham, who’s on 2/2.
The Heidenfeld‘s season has been nothing short of spectacular; possibly the most impressive across the entire seven divisions of Leinster. We figured we’d be in with an outside chance of a promotion push – we didn’t reckon on having the biggest gap at the top of any of the seven divisions by Christmas! Yet since the opening round, when we hammered Celbridge, 11th in the Armstrong last season, with Ciarán Ruane beating a 2100 on board 1, everything has gone our way. Our subs have scored 6/7; the rest of our team is losing only one game per match on average. The return of Ciarán Mahon is a boost too. But there’s no room for complacency; we have yet to play most of the top teams – though they’re the games we’ve been doing well in the past two seasons! Strangely, this is the only team without a 100% record leading the scoring; Ciarán Ruane is top scorer on 4½/5. It’s 20 years our last Heidenfeld promotion; if we can win our next game (against Rathmines A), we’re definitely promotion contenders. In the same round, Inchicore A have a bye and Curragh play Malahide.
Finally, to the Armstrong, who had hopes of a first title win since 1993/94 – though Gonzaga’s flying form may well have put paid to that. Still, we’re in second at the moment – if we stay there, it’d mark our best finish since 1997/98. Again, we’ve all the top half teams yet to play, and don’t play the very top teams for another couple of rounds – a bit of a trend across our teams! Stephen Brady FM is leading the way with 5/5 in his first season with the club, and has a half-point advantage over Ciarán in the overall Top Scorer trophy race. Elm Mount B are next up; the crunch tie against Gonzaga is on the last day of February, and is preceded by a tie against reigning champions Trinity.