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Dollybirds fly back into League as Glebe pull out of play-offs

 

By Graham Luney

It's onwards and upwards for Dollingstown after they were fired back into the Irish League following Glebe Rangers' decision to withdraw from the forthcoming play-off clash.

The two clubs - champions of the Mid-Ulster and Ballymena and Provincial intermediate divisions, respectively - were scheduled to clash across two legs over the course of the next week, with the winners progressing to the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League.

However, the Northern Ireland Football League have announced Glebe's decision to pull out of the play-offs, handing Dollingstown an automatic return to the domestic game's third-tier.

Dollingstown will take the place of Donegal Celtic, who finished bottom of the Premier Intermediate League and have been relegated.

The Dollybirds, who won the MUFL's Intermediate A by a point from Banbridge Rangers, were beaten by Portstewart in last season's promotion play-off.

The club's first stint in the NI Football League ended when they were relegated on the final day of the 2015/16 season.

Glebe Rangers spokesman John McAuley said the club had to pull out of the fixtures for financial reasons.

"This is not a decision which has been taken lightly and is simply down to the financial requirements of playing in the PIL," he said.

"It would cost an additional 50 per cent to make the step up and, as a result of the current economic climate, the club have failed to secure the required backing from a number of potential sponsors.

"We will continue to work hard behind the scenes in the hope of overcoming this issue to avoid the same situation in the future as the club's ambitions are still to play at the highest level possible within our capabilities. On behalf of the club, I would like to wish Dollingstown all the best next season."

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