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Do-or-die time for Orchard and Grove

It is going to be the biggest game of the season so far. There will be no fanfares though; no trophies on offer and no medals to pick up. What is on offer for Cherry Orchard and Belgrove tomorrow morning in Ballyfermot is survival -- and it is a game of winner takes all.

The facts are simple and stark for both of these Senior Division stalwarts: lose and it is goodbye to top-flight football. A win, however, will guarantee safety and could spell the end for either Malahide United or Mount Merrion.

The fact that two of four sides could be demoted on the last day of the season has made this relegation dogfight one of the most exciting and most nerve jangling for many seasons. For both the Orchard and Belgrove, though, at least their destiny is in their own hands.

An Orchard win will ensure that the Ballyfermot giants continue in the Senior Division, a league that they have graced since 1993. A draw for Graham Doyle's side could be enough, providing Malahide fail to win their last game and Mount Merrion lose their final match against Tolka Rovers by a couple of goals or more during the week. A defeat for the Orchard and it is goodbye top flight, hello Division 1.

For Belgrove it is even simpler. A win and they stay up. Anything else and the Whitehall-based club will return to Division 1. The Grove, though, have been in decent form in recent weeks as they lifted themselves up off the bottom losing only twice in their last seven league games. In fact, the Grove have won two of their last three games, including a big win in the FAI Senior Cup over Regional in Limerick last weekend.

Cherry Orchard warmed up for this one with a remarkable win over Malahide on Wednesday night, their first win in seven outings. The Orchard showed their fighting spirit in Gannon Park when they came from behind to win a thrilling game 3-2. The win lifted them out of the relegation zone and sent Malahide to the basement of the league.

Form, though, will go out the window at Elm Dale in the morning. This is a cup final with survival as the prize, and by lunchtime tomorrow one of these Senior Division giants will be evicted from the LSL top table.



Dublin Bus can end Bangor Celtic's outside hopes of reclaiming their Senior Division crown at Coldcut tomorrow morning. Bangor have three games left, lie eight points off leaders Crumlin United and can only win the league by winning their remaining games and hope that their neighbours fall apart at the seams. The Celts will be trying to pick themselves up following a heartbreaking defeat in the Metro Cup to Crumlin on Wednesday. Their heads will be down and the Bus might just take advantage to finish their season on a high.


Both of these have tapped up a bit of form going into this tie with victories in their last outings, so the knack of winning is fresh in their minds. The pressure will be huge on both sets of players and the tension in Elm Dale tomorrow will be thick enough to touch. The season has come down to just 90 minutes of do-or-die football and one slice of luck could change everything.