Promotion chasing Black Bull lost an appeal lodged with the North East Football League on Tuesday evening when the league decided to dismiss their complaint against the use of a supposed ineligible player – boosting Ardee Celtic’s promotion hopes, but denting Square United’s chances of staying in the division.
The Drogheda-based side lodged an appeal with the NEFL after their 2-2 draw with Woodview Celtic last month, alleging the Meath men fielded an ineligible player.
With fourth placed Black Bull having games in hand on the teams above them, the appeal meant league leaders OMP – who had assumed carnation as champions after Ardee Celtic’s loss against Black Bull on Friday – were left to wait to see whether or not they were in fact league winners.
Had they been awarded the additional two points from their clash with Woodview, winning their remaining two matches would have seen Black Bull reach 50 points. Were OMP to lose against Ardee Celtic in their final day clash on Friday, Black Bull would have been crowned champions based on a superior head-to-head record.
However, Tuesday evening’s decision means that Black Bull have not been awarded the three points from their match against Woodview – meaning whatever happens they now cannot catch OMP, who have belatedly been crowned champions.
OMP United vs Ardee Celtic
- A win does not guarantee automatic promotion – but will guarantee a top three finish
- If Ardee Celtic win and Black Bull drop any points in their last two games, Ardee Celtic go up
- A draw would guarantee Ardee Celtic a third place finish at least
- Ardee Celtic may not be sure of their fate until Black Bull play Square United on Wednesday May 10th
- The top two in the division go straight up – while the third place team face a playoff
Ardee Celtic’s 0-3 defeat to Black Bull in Monasterboice on Friday evening ended their own title hopes and has damaged their hopes of promotion. Going into the final game – away to champions OMP – Ardee Celtic’s automatic promotion chances are no longer in their own hands.
If the Deesiders beat OMP, they will guarantee a top-three finish at least but whether or not they gain automatic promotion will depend whether Black Bull take maximum points in their remaining two games. If the Drogheda men drop any points in the final two games, a win will see Ardee Celtic go straight up.
A point would also guarantee a top-three finish – due to their better head-to-head record against Enfield Celtic. A draw result could also see them go straight up to the Premier Division if Black Bull were to lose one of their two matches left.
With Ardee Celtic currently occupying the second and final automatic promotion spot, even if they were to lose against OMP – they could still possibly go up, if Enfield Celtic lose against Torro and Black Bull fail to win either of their remaining games. That is unlikely.
Had the NEFL awarded Black Bull the extra two points at Tuesday night’s hearing, things would be more dire for Ardee Celtic. As it is, the decision gives them a little breathing space over Pat Mohan’s side. It also means OMP have nothing to play for on Friday night – a fact the Font will hope is to their advantage.
NEFL Division 1 – Remaining Fixtures
- Friday May 5th – Black Bull vs Johnstown, OMP United vs Ardee Celtic
- Sunday May 7th – Athboy Celtic vs Kentstown Rovers, Navan Town vs Square United
- Wednesday May 10th – Square United vs Black Bull
- Thursday May 11th – Enfield Celtic vs Torro United
The decision doesn’t help Square United however. If the appeal went in Black Bull’s favour, the league would have deducted the point from Woodview Celtic who remain deep in the relegation mire alongside Square and three other sides in the division.
Currently, Square occupy third from bottom in Division 1 – the relegation/promotion playoff position. Woodview are a point better off in 9th place.
The Ardee men have games on hand on all of the teams around them but need points on the board to guarantee their safety in the second tier for another.
What is guaranteed is that Square cannot finish bottom of the league. That spot is currently occupied by Torro United who trail Square by three points. The Ardee side have beaten them twice this season so that head-to-head record means regardless of whether Torro win in the final round, they cannot overtake Square.
If Square fail to take a point in either of their remaining games, they will at best have to play a play off against Carrick Rovers, who finished third in Division 2. If Kentstown Rovers fail to beat Athboy Celtic on Sunday morning, Square cannot go straight dwon.
If Square take no points from their games but Kentstown win on Sunday, the Ardee men are down.
Square can’t be relegated before the final day but they can secure their safety with a win over Navan Town on Sunday. A win would see them safe. A point might – depending on how Kentstown do against Athboy. Ironically, if Square were to take points off Black Bull in the last game of the season they could save themselves and promote Ardee Celtic in the process.
Square United’s battle against the drop
- Square have games in hand on all of the other teams in the battle at the bottom
- A win in either of their remaining two games would be enough to guarantee safety for Square
- Two points from their remaining two games would also be enough for Square
- If they fail to take any points, Square will – at best – face a playoff against Carrick Rangers