Tullycarnet joint manager Jimmy Birch believes his side are more determined than ever to make sure they lift a second successive title this season.
The east Belfast side won their 11th game of the season against fellow title contenders Bangor YM on Saturday thanks to a solitary Paul Davies goal.
And while there is joy at the seven point lead they currently hold over second-placed Portavogie Rangers (with two games in hand), there is also a sense that they could be in an even better position, but for an administrative mix-up.
The Division 2B leaders are undefeated in competitive action this season, but are to be docked three points over a failure to pay an overdue fine following a sending off in last season’s Clarence Cup.
However, the club claim they were not aware of the nominal penalty, as there was a change in the secretary’s address around the time when the fine was issued, while the time allocated for making an appeal had also since lapsed.
The issue could have threatened to cast a cloud over Tullycarnet’s title and promotion bids, but their sheer determination means that both goals are likely to be achieved well in advance of the season’s end.
Birch and his co-managers Paul Campbell and Stan Kinnier are understandably delighted with a campaign that has seen them concede just two league goals.
However, there is no question that this incident has been a blot on an otherwise fantastic season to date.
Birch stated: “It’s something we have to learn from and put behind us. But we can take the major positive from it too… I think it has made the boys even more determined to win the league.
“To be honest, it looks as if the league is ours to throw away now, but with the way things have gone, there is no way I would ever take anything for granted.”
Goalkeeper David Ferguson takes a lot of credit for the clean sheets he has contributed to the team, but, as Birch admits, there is plenty of quality running right through the team.
He said: “You have a strong defence right across the back four there, including the likes of David Ferguson Senior, who is 44, but playing like he is 19. You have the quality of Colin Callacher and Leon Campbell, with the experience of John Douglas and the goals of Michael Rea, who is our top goal-scorer with 15 goals, even though he plays out on the right.
“We are getting stronger with every season, but hopefully we can get promoted and attract even more players.
“It would be a great achievement to go up a second year in a row, but we want to keep going. Immaculata and Crumlin Star have done it, so why not us?”