Down Area Winter Football League round-up, April 23
As we enter the tail-end of the season and with many teams playing two to three games per week, things are hotting up with promotions being secured, title fights getting closer and teams being relegated.
In the Premier Division, the gap at the top has now seen Greenwell Star close to within three points of Moat Park Rangers with two games in hand. Greenwell were up against bottom-placed Comber Star, who had secured their first win of the season in their last game, so could they upset their title-challenging opposition? The answer was an emphatic 'no,' as Greenwell coasted to a 10-0 scoreline. Moat Park Rangers had fifth-placed Oakfield Breda as their opposition, and were made to fight all the way for the three points in a seven-goal thriller, edging it 4-3 to remain at the top. Third-placed Brentwood suffered their second home defeat of the week, as they lost to Corrymeela 4-0 and Comber YM made it two wins in the week, as they eased to an 8-0 win over second-bottom Ravenhill YM III. The title race looks like going the distance, but it does look like Comber Star and Ravenhill YM III are doomed to life in Division 1 next season.
In Division 1, Agape secured promotion to the Premier Division as they eased to a 5-0 win over Willowfield Parish. Can they now deliver the title? Well that could be answered in their next match, as they play their nearest challengers Clonduff, who kept their own challenge alive, but were made to fight all the way, as they edged past Carrowdore YM 1-0. The battle between the top two has been raging away the whole season with not much to choose between them, and it's a shame either of them has to lose out, but one may gain the upper hand in their next match with a win - although there could be further twists and turns before the season finishes. Third-placed Ballygowan were forced to fight all the way for the three points as they edged a nine-goal thriller against Bangor YM III 5-4.
In Division 2B, Greenwell Star II secured the title as they coasted to a 5-0 win over 3rd Bangor II - so will the club make it a double celebration by winning the Premier Division as well? In Division 2B, second-placed Clonduff II had to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw with Oakfield Breda, but this division is hard to call, as there are a number of teams still in with a chance of winning the title or earning promotion.
In the Frank Moore Cup, Ards Rangers III and Newtownards RBL progressed to the final, with Ards Rangers beating North Down 3-1 and RBL beating Clonduff on penalties.
In the Tommy Murphy Memorial Shield, there were wins for 8th OB II, Moat Park Rangers II, Greenwell Star II, Comber YM II, Ballygowan II, Bangor Rangers IV, Newtown Forest II and 43rd Dundonald II.