Sunday 18 August 2019

On the Line: Club qualifiers will be known after a hectic few weeks

Alan Aherne.
Alan Aherne.

Alan Aherne

It's not easy being a dual club player at this time of year.

With four rounds apiece played in the adult county championships, a lot of major issues will be decided before the end of the month.

However, after being idle for a large chunk of the summer, there seems to be little consideration, if any, given to the demands of trying to juggle codes as the games start to come thick and fast.

There's a great deal at stake, and while ultimately just one club will be successful in each grade, I would contend that the battle for survival is every bit as important.

It's not getting any easier to maintain the interest of the average club player, and I have no doubt that making the drop to a lesser competition would leave many outfits in dire straits.

All of the knockout pairings in the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship ought to be decided just before 10 p.m. next Tuesday when the final rounds take place.

The only question to be finalised in Group A is whether Adamstown or Fethard will finish third or fourth respectively.

The victor from their game in Cushinstown will have the honour of being one step ahead of their opponents, but both are through regardless.

The other two games are meaningless as, no matter what happens, St. Anne's will finish first, Shelmaliers will be second, Sarsfields won't qualify in fifth, while St. Fintan's are destined to contest the relegation final.

If that sounds like a dull way to finish a group, it's a different story entirely in the other section where just four points, rather than eight, separate top from bottom.

The point St. James' garnered last time out against Castletown could prove to be one of the most precious the club has ever secured because, at the moment, it leaves them one ahead of Horeswood on the table.

With Gusserane showing good form and recently capturing the Division 1 league title, it means they're favourites for their meeting with the Campile crew. And should they justify that tag, then Horeswood would be facing St. Fintan's in a 60-minute battle to avoid the drop.

Horeswood must win, simple as that, and even that would not be enough if St. James' and Castletown were to beat Starlights and St. Martin's respectively.

With St. Martin's through, the other five teams still have a chance of making the quarter-finals, while three of them have the relegation spectre hanging over them. Followers can expect Twitter to go into overdrive at around 8.15 p.m. next Tuesday as, with the three games starting simultaneously at 7 p.m., all will be revealed around that time.

Turning to the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship, it's not intended as an insult to Cloughbawn when I note that few followers would have expected them to be leading the way in Group A with one round left to play.

However, they are one of just two unbeaten teams so far in the main grade along with Group B table-toppers Oulart-The Ballagh, and they are there entirely on merit.

There's no prizes for guessing the big game in the last round of Group A as it's all to play for between St. Anne's and Rapparees.

With Cloughbawn, St. Martin's and Glynn-Barntown all through, who will join them? It would be a huge blow to the Rathangan side if they were to miss out on a knockout place less than twelve months after running Shelmaliers so close for ultimate honours.

Yet that will be their fate if the Bellefield crew manage a second successive victory and leapfrog them on the table. It could be a feast or a famine for the Rapps: a last eight spot if they win, but a relegation final against town rivals Shamrocks if they lose and Rathnure beat Glynn-Barntown.

The idea of the black and ambers being so close to the drop won't sit well with the traditionalists, but another loss would leave them with just 60 minutes to salvage their long-held status.

In Group B, Oulart-The Ballagh and Shelmaliers are through, and Shamrocks will be in the relegation final, but who will claim the last two qualifying places? It's between Faythe Harriers, Buffers Alley and Ferns St. Aidan's and it will go down to the wire as they meet Shamrocks, Shelmaliers and Oulart-The Ballagh respectively.

Wexford People

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