Last night saw the club’s third league derby in as many years, with the meeting of our two O’Hanlons ending the same way as our meetings between the two Bodleys (2014/15) and the two Armstrongs (2015/16) – with a big win for the As, but an encouraging performance for our Bs.
With the As resuming at 1-0 up from the previous week, when Eddie beat Desmond, both sides were looking for good a start to the season en route to their respective targets of promotion and survival. A much-strengthened A team – now with actual regular players – far from had it their own way against their Bs, though. Seán had a straightforward win against Luke-Andrew, picking up a piece and converting in the ending. But there were real battles going on across the other four boards. Luke had given up first an exchange, then another piece, for an attack against Anastasija; Ciarán had gone wrong against William and was a pawn down with a horrible position to boot, Liam and Odhrán were fairly even and Nicky was a pawn down but had a bit of pressure against Brendan.
In the end, the ratings gaps began to tell though. Luke brought Anastasija’s king for a walk, but it found shelter up the other end of the board and, even with queens and most of the rooks on, it was surprisingly safe, and Luke was just a rook down. Nicky lost a second pawn, and then resigned when about to lose another exchange – Brendan only had five minutes left at this stage compared to Nicky’s 40, but there was enough there to justify resignation.
That left boards 1 and 3. William gradually gave up his advantage and had to settle for a draw in a position where, even a pawn down, Ciarán might have had winning ideas – still, once our High Fives get up and running, it’ll be well up there on the highest draws for a while, as will Liam’s draw against Odhrán, which went down to B+3 v N+3. Overall, the match is a good start for the As on the promotion push, but the Bs surely have enough to be able to stay in the division.