The NTDL has finally returned to some regular football action after a record breaking spell away from the game due to numerous enforced delays as a result of the poor weather conditions of late. The Premier League table is beginning to take shape for a number of teams at both the summit and bottom as we approach the business end of the season. Steamstown Celtic remain clear at the top after receiving a walkover from the much troubled Clodiagh Rangers who cannot seem to find their feet after the enforced layoff at a time when league points are a priority. Nenagh Celtic were made to work hard as they play catch up with a number of games in hand against a determined Cloughjordan side who were looking to bounce back from the Munster Junior Cup exit despite a strong showing a number of weeks ago. Once again it was the ever reliable Jimmy Hynes who grabbed the game’s only goal mid way through the first half to see Celtic well placed in joint second place with their opponents on the day and Thurles Town who left it late at the Glenbane venue to clinch all three points over the home side Holycross in a nine goal thriller. Tom Brophy got the ball rolling on the day’s high scoring after only five minutes when he headed home from close range. However, parity was soon restored when the home side levelled, and then after playing some great football found themselves 3 – 1 to the good, but Barry Ryan grabbed a life line just before the break for the visitors. Soon after the break, the home side restored their 2 goal advantage but Thurles with once again reduced the deficit when Brophy bagged his second. In the 80th minutes, the goal of the day was scored by Barry Ryan when his perfectly executed overhead kick found the net to rattle the home sides dwindling chance of fighting off relegation, and their woes were further compounded when Brophy completed his hat trick with only minutes remaining to cap a man of the match performance. Lough Derg have now pulled away from the danger zone and were thankful for a share of the spoils in Templemore as they faced BT Harps who are still too close for comfort to the wrong end of the table. Both sides had their chances to grab all three poinst but it was Cathal Leahy’s goal for Harps that keeps them at arms length from Clodiagh Rangers in the battle to stay up, with both sides facing each other next weekend in a crucial encounter.
As proven in recent seasons, the First Division is proving to be a tightly congested division, with only Borrisokane seeing any real daylight between themselves and the chasing pack as they sit top of the league and favourites to clinch divisional honours. Last Sunday saw the league leaders clinical in front of goal as they won out 4 -1 over Arra Rovers who now as a result find themselves in the bottom three alongside Ardcroney, who drew 2 – 2 with Ballymackey when it was all three points both sides needed. All the action was in the first half of this tie, with both sides going into the break all square. Borroway Rovers remain in the promotion hunt after a spirited 3 – 2 over visitors Roscrea United in Loughtagalla, a result which sees the Kennedy Park side remain bottom of the First Division, albeit with a number of games in hand.
Nora Kennedy Cup
Second Division action was dominated by cup action this weekend with Nenagh Celtic, Gurtagarry and Portumna all advancing. Celtic left it late to seal their safe passage into the semi finals thanks to an extra time penalty from Darren McGrath. Portumna travelled to Drombane and had to wait until the 50th minute before the flood gates opened as they saw off Clodiagh Rangers 7 nil. Gurtagarry were made to work hard away to Cloughjordan, but eventually won out 3 – 1.
Fast Food Cup Semi Finals
It has come as no surprise that the Thrid Divisions current top two sides in the shape of Ballywilliam and Holycross will contest the divisional cup final after both sides won on the road to clinch their spots in the season’s first cup final. Ballywilliam took the lead against Barnane thanks to a Stephen Murray hat trick, with the first being from the penalty spot. Barnane had levelled matters early in the second half, but Murray wasn’t to be denied as he helped his side progress. Holycross, despite a long enforced break as they have concluded their league campaign and remain top, despite the chasing pack having games in hand, travelled to face Ballymackey and won out 2 – 1 as they have hopes of a league and cup double still firmly in their sights.