With the mid-season break upon us, we look at how our various league teams are faring…
Starting at the bottom, it’s been a tough season for the O’Sullivan in what’s a very competitive league with a number of 1300+ players. Not having a team to draw subs from hasn’t helped either, with a number of walkovers on boards we might otherwise have been able to target for points. There’s only one game to go, but we’re long since out of the promotion race, and even matching last season’s fourth place finish is looking unlikely. Stephen Callaghan-Kane wasn’t originally in the squad at all, but has taken advantage of the unavailability of other players and is the team’s top scorer on 3/3 – although whether he can remain in contention for the club’s top scorer trophy (right) depends on how many post-split games we’re given. The last game of the regular season is in February against Ballinasloe before some matches against teams in the other group who also didn’t make the promotion play-off.
The Bodley had looked like being relegated at one stage last year, only for a strong finish to lift them out of trouble. However, there’s no sign of a repeat at present this year – in fact, had we lost just 3-2 instead of 5-0 against Enniscorthy in round 3 when, due to other matches at the same time, we actually had no Bodley players make the trip, we would be in joint second now. With games against two of the bottom three next up, we should be able to rise up the table a bit before a February tie against title favourites Trinity. As for top scorer – if it’s the Bodley, it has to be Luke-Andrew, whose 3/3 brings his overall Bodley record to 17/21…with not a single draw. Strangely, he’s only subbed up once in that time – an O’Hanlon game which, of course, ended in a draw!
A lot of clubs have seen multiple promotions in recent years – Enniscorthy, Gonzaga, Skerries, Gorey, Round Tower, Blanchardstown…and St Benildus? There’s a long way to go of course, but the BEA are within touching distance of the top two just a few short months after promotion from the Bodley – and like the Bodley, had they not needed three subs for a game in Drogheda in October, they could have added a point to our score there which would now have them in second place. They re-start in the new year with a game against fellow promoted side Curragh before a potentially decisive game against Dublin. It’s worth noting too that Portmarnock received a 5-0 walkover against Rathmines, who took 2½ points off us – so if Portmarnock end up promoted but finish 2½ points or less ahead of us, we may be able to challenge them to a promotion play-off. Top scorers are Seán and William on 4/4 and 4/5 respectively, with both currently leading the way in the top scorer chase along with several of the Armstrong A.
It’s another season of consolidation for the O’Hanlon, with only three of the original seven-man panel having played more than twice in the opening five games. Their run in sees four of the last six games at home – although neither of the away games are in Dublin, which will be tricky! The first of those, in Celbridge next month, is a biggie where defeat would see us slip a bit too close for comfort to the drop. But there should be enough about the club to ensure that the team pulls through for another season. Top scorers are Odhrán and captain Eddie, both on 2½ – so we know we can match the rest on board 1, and the club’s result of the season was surely the O’Hanlon’s narrow defeat against Gonzaga – so with a bit more strength in depth, we could finally get a proper shot at winning this one of the years!
With no teams in the Ennis or the Heidenfeld, there’s a bit of a gap to our second VIII, the Armstrong B. We’re currently not in the relegation zone and have even avoided defeat in one match, a highly respectable draw in Bray, so we’re arguably ahead of expectations at this stage! But more importantly, while Phibsboro, Curragh and Kilkenny have all played each other, we’ve played none of them, so there’s some massive games coming up in the second half of the season, starting in January with a trip to Phibsboro. Interestingly, the Bs have played six matches which our relegation rivals have also played – and in every single one, we’ve either matched our beaten their score – we’re 4 points ahead of Kilkenny against the four teams we’ve both played (Bray, Dublin, Dún Laoghaire and Gonzaga), 1½ ahead of Curragh against the two teams we’ve both played (Gonzaga and our As) and there’s nobody in the division yet who’s played both us and Phibsboro. Maybe not surprisingly given how relatively even our squad is ratings-wise, our bottom two boards, Brendan and Mihailo, are our top scorers on 2, but the points are being distributed fairly evenly between all the players.
The As, meanwhile, have established themselves as Gonzaga’s main challengers, albeit that a decent gap has opened up already. But even a runners-up spot would mark the club’s highest finish since 1997/98. Curiously, three of their results have been exactly the same as last year, with the main difference being a 5½-2½ win over Bray, who beat us 6-2 last year. Top scorers are John, Brendan and Gerry on 4/5, with the holder of the top scorer trophy, Stephen Brady FM, lurking on 3½/5. Like the Bs, the As have a big match in round 6, when they face 2013/14 champions Trinity in a match which may well decide second place.
And in the only division where we have a B team – and so subs are more awkward – it’s also worth noting our subs, Odhrán and Aodhán, who’ve only played once each (for the As and Bs respectively), but have both won against players 240 and 480 points higher-rated. Just what we need!
Best of luck to all our teams in the new year!