The O’Hanlon, BEA and Bodley picked up four points apiece on Wednesday, results which see the O’Hanlon effectively safe and the BEA huge favourites for promotion.
On our busiest night of the season in terms of league matches, we had pretty much a first-choice 16 players available; with the six Bodley players available, Luke-Andrew was subbing up to the O’Hanlon to cover for Brendan Cuffe. But then the O’Hanlon opposition told us of a walkover on 6 – so Luke got stood down. But within 24 hours, he was back in again as first Frank and then Nicky had to pull out sick. Frank took the walkover on offer, Luke ended up on the BEA – and on board 2 as well, as we had already printed off the teamsheet and it was easier to just put him on Nicky’s board – while Paddy jumped in on the Bodley at late notice.
In the Bodley, we were looking in trouble earlier on, but came through pretty much across the boards. Ben won a N+4 v B+4 ending which he didn’t seem to have any right to do, Cal and Liam’s mirror season continued as both won from material down, while Des turned down a draw offer as he had a fork on the board and played that instead. Only Paddy went down to defeat, but a 4-1 win over a team of 1050+s is an excellent result, and depending on the strength of the teams coming up from the O’Sullivan, we could be in line for a sneaky promotion tilt next season.
In the next room, Luke-Andrew was showing no signs of confusion from, in 24 hours, having been on the Bodley, having a walkover, being on board 6 on the O’Hanlon, being on the BEA and now unexpectedly being on board 2 for the BEA against a 1350. In fact, he delivered a crushing win to steady any nerves for the BEA, who were targeting 6 points from their last two matches to seal promotion.
More wins came in – Luke won on 5, a board Portmarnock had picked up just 1½/9 on to date in the season, before Aodhán also won to get us to the three points we’d been looking for in this game. Seán went down to his first defeat of the season against a fellow 1400 before William got one final point with a win on board 3 – a fourth 4-1 defeat in a row for Portmarnock, who had been promotion contenders at one stage; William has taken over from Seán as the leader in the top scorer race. The result means we’re level with Naomh Barróg going into the last day, albeit behind them on tie-break. But we face struggling Balbriggan while Naomh Barróg play an Enniscorthy side already crowned champions, and who have two players still looking to confirm board prizes. All we need to do is outscore Naomh Barróg, and we’ll have a second successive promotion.
If we do go up, it’ll mean another derby match next September after the O’Hanlon all but confirmed safety after a difficult season. Three wins in a row for Bray, and three 3½-2½ defeats for Celbridge, had seen the gap at the bottom get quite close, even after we put on a spurt of our own, but the walkover on board 6 was only the start of a good evening’s work. Finn and Eddie had quick wins to put us 3-0 up, and though Ronan lost – having almost forgotten about the match; he ended up down 50 minutes for his board 1 match – Desmond and Odhrán added draws to secure a 4-2 win. We’re now nicely in mid-table, and just 1½ points against Aer Lingus in the last round will secure safety and it’d leave Bray and Celbridge unable to catch us.
The final round of the leagues is on on Sunday week in the ALSAA – the O’Hanlon and Bodley are on at 10am, while the remaining three teams are on at 3pm.