ROUND FOUR of the Dominic Smith Electrical Senior football championship was a pivotal one last weekend, as many of the major issues were decided.
In Group A St. Martin’s are confirmed as qualifiers for the relegation final, much to the surprise of many observers.
To be fair to the Piercestown-based team, they have lost a host of important players through injury and travel, and any club in the same situation would have found it difficult to win games.
However, they will be a formidable opponent for whoever emerges from Group B as they showed a return to form in their drawn game with Crossabeg-Ballymurn last weekend.
The final positions in the group have still not been decided, so every game next week has an importance attached to it.
The amazing situation is that Crossabeg-Ballymurn may still not qualify even though they have five points.
If the three teams below them on four win they will have six points and will automatically leap-frog them in to qualifying.
It just shows how competitive the group is. Gusserane are on top with six points and are showing great form as they are already qualified for the quarter-final.
The qualifiers from Group B have already been decided, with Sarsfields and HWH-Bunclody left to fight it out in the last game to see who will avoid the relegation final.
These two teams were everybody’s favourites to be in this position from the start, so it is no big surprise to see them bottom of the table.
It will be a high stakes game next Sunday and very difficult to call who will gain the crucial victory, as former county team colleagues Ger Halligan and Micheál Furlong pit their wits against each other.
The remaining games in the group are a pressure-free outing for the other teams and will decide the final placings and who they will face in the next round.
It’s a nice position for these clubs to be in as they can rest any injuries if required this weekend, relax and enjoy their games.
Shelmaliers, Glynn-Barntown, St. James’ and Castletown have all qualified comfortably, and their eyes will be on the following week when the competition turns to knockout.
In Intermediate Group A, Horeswood, Taghmon-Camross and Rathgarogue-Cushinstown are showing excellent form now and look like genuine title challengers at this stage, and they have been joined in the top four by last year’s finalists, St. Mary’s (Maudlintown). This was a very tough group and achieving qualification is a job well done.
Group B is one of the closest across the various championships, with all teams still in with a chance of qualifying. One of the favourites, Fethard, are back to form on top and will look to consolidate that position with a victory over Bannow-Ballymitty this weekend.
Naomh Éanna have recovered from their first round loss to Clongeen and can challenge for the title.
The three games in this group will have an impact on the final placings, so I expect this grade to provide the usual exciting fare, with the odd shock thrown in for good measure.
Roll on an exciting weekend of championship football.