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crumlin eye phoenix to fire drive for five

After several weeks of lying in the shadow of cup football, the Senior Division title race barges its way back to centre stage tomorrow, with all the three main contenders in action.

Leaders, Crumlin United, and Bluebell United kept their 'drive for five' alive last weekend when both advanced into the last eight of the FAI Intermediate Cup, but tomorrow they get the chance to focus on the league with homes games against Phoenix and Malahide United respectively.

While Crumlin and the 'Bell were keeping their push for silverware on five fronts intact, Bangor Celtic had the chance to close the gap at the top but failed to put Mount Merrion away and had to settle for a share of the points.

That draw helped Celtic stretch their unbeaten league run to 13 games and in turn reduced the gap between themselves and Crumlin to just three points, but John Scott's outfit will feel it was two points dropped rather than one point gained.

Crumlin clash with a Phoenix side that has already taken points off them when the pair met in the league earlier in the season.

The 'Nix have won three of their last six games, but Crumlin will present a different test for the fifth-placed side.

United's league form has steadied up following something of a pre-Christmas blip. Martin Loughren's side picked up only one point out of nine, losing two on the bounce in early December.

Since then, though, United have won their last three games and now have Phoenix in their line of fire this weekend.

SENIOR DIVISION

CHERRY ORCHARD v BELGROVE

The Orchard have lost only twice in their last nine and a hard-earned draw against Tolka Rovers helped the Ballyfermot club out of a rumble in the relegation jungle. The 'Grove, though, are right in the thick of the drop zone, with Rocky O'Brien's side bottom. Belgrove have only managed one win all season and it is hard to see them adding to that total tomorrow.

Verdict: Home Win.

DUBLIN BUS v LIFFEYS PEARSE

Both of these are dangling a little too close to the relegation zone and the pair of them could do with getting some points on the board. Liffeys headed to Balbriggan last Monday night and duly lost by four goals to two, and it looks as if their winless run will be stretched to five tomorrow. Verdict: Home Win.

CRUMLIN UNITED v PHOENIX

The 'Nix will be a tough twig to snap, but the leaders should manage to get the victory and keep ahead of the chasing pack.

Verdict: Home Win.

WAYSIDE CELTIC v BANGOR CELTIC

A defeat by fellow strugglers Firhouse Clover last week has left Wayside facing the real possibility of relegation. The little upturn in form just after Christmas has evaporated and Peter Lennon's side are going to need to start grinding out results. Bangor will be rueing last week's missed opportunity to close the gap at the top, but this is a good time to be heading to Jackson Park and add to Wayside's woes.

Verdict: Away Win.

BLUEBELL UNITED v MALAHIDE UNITED

Malahide produced a big performance last weekend to get the better of Dublin Bus but tomorrow they head back across the river to face a different animal. United are flying on all fronts this season and they should get the better of the Gannon Park side to keep up the pressure on the front-runners.

Verdict: Home Win.


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