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Wicklow drama set for grand finale

ONE THING that is guaranteed in the Wicklow League is that it is full of drama.

No big Hollywood movie or TV soap opera could have come up with the events of the past few weeks in the Pat O'Toole Division 1.

Rathnew AFC controversially beat Celtic Stars 3-2 on April 24 with an injury-time penalty at Shamrock Park that saw three players sent off.

The two teams then met again at Drummin on May 5, but after two red cards and the game tied at 4-4, the contest was abandoned in the 80th minute following encroachment on the pitch by the members of the Shillelagh side.

After a hearing into both games on Monday, May 13 at their offices in Bray, the Wicklow League Executive Committee issued suspensions relating to all red cards and a Stars player is suspended until he appears before the Wicklow League for allegedly approaching referee Paul O'Brien after the second game was halted.

And a Celtic Stars official is to serve a six-match touch-line ban for their part in the endings of both fixtures.

Significantly though, the Wicklow League has let the result stand from the abandoned game.

It all meant that Wicklow Town would become champions if they could get the better of Wolfe Tone Celtic on Wednesday, May 15 last.

But in another twist, the Wicklow Cup finalists lost 2-1 at the Temple Sportsfield in Bray.

That result saw Rathnew crowned champions. But it also opened the window for both Celtic Stars and St. Fergal's AFC to pip Wicklow Town to second place and get promoted to the Andy McEvoy Premier Division.

The two teams are due to meet at the Ballywaltrim Recreational Park in Bray on Sunday June 2. A win for either team would see them finish a single point ahead of Wicklow Town.

MCEVOY'S THREE IN IT TO WIN IT

TO MATCH THE Division 1 drama, the Andy McEvoy Premier Division could also go right to the wire.

Rathnew AFC defeated Arklow United by a 7-3 scoreline at Ferndale Park on Wednesday, May 15 with goals by Shane Doyle (3), Jody Merrigan (2), Mark Evans and Matthew Foley.

The scenario now is that Rathnew, Newtown United and Arklow Town can all still lift the top-flight silverware.

Newtown will take the trophy if they win their last League game against Rathnew on Tuesday, May 21 at the Matt Kelly Memorial Grounds.

A Rathnew success, coupled with the Villagers beating Arklow Town on Friday May 24 at Shamrock Park, would see them secure pole position.

To compounds matters, if Newtown lose to Rathnew, Arklow Town can also become champions if they defeat Rathnew.

Depending on results, a play-off between Newtown and Arklow is another possibility.

Paul Dowling


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