John Mitchels returned to winning ways on Saturday evening to guarantee they won’t be automatically relegated – but despite their 3-13 to 1-09 over Naomh Mairtin, the Ballybailie side are still staring at the prospect of a promotion relegation play-off to stay in Division Three.
The Mitchels were impressive in seeing off the challenge of the men from Monasterboice and the win – just their third in ten league outings – has relegated bottom side Dowdallshill. Whilst automatic relegation, as distant a prospect as it might have been, is no longer a possibility, the Mitchels may still have to face a play-off to remain in the third tier.
Goals from Robert Coyle, John Gallagher and Stephen Coyle helped the home side on their way to victory, with teenager Gallagher hitting a brilliant 1-07 to underline his importance to the side going forward. Ben O’Brien also impressed in the full forward line, hitting 0-04 in a strong showing on home soil.
With one game to play, the Mitchels sit on six points – level with both St Brides and Naomh Malachi. However, those two have two games left and were supposed to play eachother on Saturday but that fixture was called off earlier in the day.
With the worst goal difference of the three teams, it’s likely the Mitchels will have to take two points against the Westerns next Saturday to stand any chance of avoiding the playoff.
But they’ll approach the game with a degree of confidence after the performance against Naomh Mairtin. What the John Mitchels cannot afford is a repeat of their big Championship loss to the men from Reaghstown last month. That day in Stabannon, Hugh Diamond’s side went down 2-13 to 1-03.
Should they finish 11th, they will face the fourth placed side in Division 4 with the winner of that game taking on either the second or third placed team. Ardee St Marys’ junior side are among the teams the Mitchels could potentially face in a playoff semi-final or final.
JOHN MITCHELS: David Anderson, Connell Keenan, Emmett Farrell, Sam Bingham, Mitchell Keenan, Aaron Kane, Ruairi Mulligan, Aaron Keely, James Clarke (0-01), Rory Durnin, Stephen Coyle (1-00), John Gallagher (1-07), Barry Kirk, Robbie Coyle (1-01), Ben O’Brien (0-04).
Subs: Gareth Finnegan, Anthony Coyle
Elsewhere in Division 3, there were defeats for both Westerns and Sean McDermotts in their penultimate matches of the league season. The Seans, who came into the game with a slim chance of securing a top four place, went down 4-13 to 2-12 in a highly entertaining game at Pairc Mac Diarmada.
Tony Kelly scored 1-3 from the half forward line and Lee Ross added the Seans other goal but the men from Dunleer won out in the end. The win for Lann Leire confirmed their place in the promotion playoff with a game to spare. David O’Neill and Kevin Carroll scored 0-03 and 0-02 points respectively.
Lann Leire held a one point lead at the break but the Seans couldn’t keep pace after the interval. Sean McMahon, Emmett Duffy, Kevin McMahon and the evergreen Brendan McGahon completed the scoring for the Seans. They will face Stabannon Parnells next weekend knowing a win will see finish the term in a credible fifth position.
SEAN MCDERMOTTS: Mark McEneaney, Alan O’Neill, Ciaran McMahon, Kevin McGahon, Ian Corbally, Sean McMahon (0-01), Lee Ross (1-00), Patrick Osborne, Emmett Duffy (0-01), David O’Neill (0-03), Tony Kelly (1-03), Peter Osborne, Brendan McGahon (0-01), Kevin Carroll (0-02), Kevin McMahon (0-01).
Subs: Stephen Carrie, Danny McEneaney, Cormac Walsh.
Ciaran Campbell topscored with 0-04 for the Westerns as they lost out to St Kevins in Philipstown by a score of 1-10 to 1-15. Anthony Durnin scored the goal for Westerns, with brother Tommy not involved. The Reaghstown side trailed by two points at the break but in truth in could have been more.
Seven wides for the Kevins allowed their visitors to stay in touch thanks mainly to Durnin’s 16th minute goal and Campbell’s point on the whistle which left it 1-05 to 1-07 at the break. The two teams traded scores for the majority of the second period, with a late flurry helping the home side pull away.
WESTERNS: Jonny Brennan, Mick Martin, Shane Matthews, Andy Kerr, Sean McGuinness, Stephen Boylan, Colin Martin, Anthony Durnin, Terence Sweeney, Ciaran Scriven, Trevor Baylon, Conor Kerr, Jonnie Lynch, Dylan Ogle, Ciaran Campbell.
Subs: Patrick Kerley for Shane Matthews
Finally, with another round of fixtures comes another big win for Glyde Rangers. They beat Stabannon Parnells 6-13 to 0-15 in Tallanstown, coming just two weeks after they won 0-12 to 2-01 in the JFC quarter-finals. Alan Brennan, Niall Sharkey, Barry Sharkey, Trevor O’Brien, Brian Duffy and Dion Conlon scored the Glyde Rangers goals.