00:00 Saturday 19 December 2009 

Ballydehob extend lead at top of the premier league

Mark Cronin struck his eleventh league goal of the season in the 85th minute, to seal a dramatic late victory for Ballydehob against Ardfield last Sunday morning in Rathravane.

This crucial victory extends Ballydehob's lead at the top of the premier league to three points over Dunmanway Town with both teams having played the same number of games. Drinagh Rangers remain in third place, four points behind the league leaders Ballydehob, but the reigning league champions have the advantage of two games in hand as the race for the championship title continues in earnest. Skibbereen cannot be discounted from the title race just yet as they remain ten points behind the league leaders but they have three games in hand on the Hob as a result of all their cup exploits. Whilst Ardfield can take some measure of solace from an improved showing against Ballydehob, they remain firmly anchored to the bottom of the premier league table and will need to embark on a good run of form very quickly if they are to preserve their league status for next season.

Leeside continued their recent run of good form with a narrow 1-0 home win against Bunratty United. Colin Tanner was the hero with his solitary goal securing a precious three points for Leeside whose recent revival in league form has enable them to move out of the relegation zone. This victory makes it seven points out of a possible nine in their last three league games after a dismal start to the season. They are a point ahead of Clonakilty AFC, but have played four games more than their relegation rivals. This defeat which was only newly promoted Bunratty's second league defeat of the season ensures they remain firmly embedded in mid-table.

Molaga Celtic remain top of the First Division by virtue of their impressive goal difference record despite succumbing to a surprise 3-1 away defeat against Castletown Celtic. Frank Hickey with a brace and Ted Lordan were on the scoresheet for Castletown. Noel Coomey replied with a consolation goal for a Molaga outfit who succumbed to a league defeat for the first time in over twelve months.

Rosscarbery failed to take advantage of Molaga Celtic's defeat as they were held to a 1-1 away draw against Kilmichael Rovers. Shane Murphy struck for the home team but this was cancelled out by an equalising goal from young Kieran Fitzpatrick who crowned a man of the match peformance with a sweet strike. This result moves Ross level on points with Molaga at the summit of the first divison but Ross have played a game more than their promotion chasing rivals.

Droumree Dynamos remain firmly in contention to gatecrash the top two teams' promotional asprirations to the top flight by virtue of their hard fought 3-2 home win against Aultagh Celtic. Shane Creed, Fergal Kelleher and Martin Kelleher struck for Droumree. Damien Donegan for the second successive game and right full back Eddie O'Connell replied with consolation goals for Aultagh who have now been edged out by the odd goal in five in their last two league clashes. Droumree remain in third place but have reduced the gap on Rosscarbery to six points with two games in hand as the race to secure automatic promotion gears up.

Clonakilty Town moved up to fourth place in the table courtesy of edging out a five goal thriller against Bantry Gunners. Eoin Gilbert and Karol Kurowski (2) struck for Clonakilty Town. Donal O'Shea and Ger O'Shea struck for Bantry Gunners. Riverside Athletic and Lyre Rovers also served up a five goal epic with the home side Athletic emerging victorious by the narrowest of margins to move them out of the dreaded relegation zone.

Veteran campaigner John Caulfield and Brian O'Mahony with a brace struck for Riverside who have surprisingly endured a dismal start to the league campaign. D. Barrett and Michael Keohane replied with the goals for Lyre Rovers. Lyre Rovers remain rooted to the bottom of the division three points adrift of safety having playing a game more than most of their relegation rivals. It looks ominous for Lyre unless they can experience a dramatic reversal in form over the ensuing weeks in order to mount a sustained campaign to preserve their league status.

Baltimore FC inflicted the first league defeat of the season on Crookstown after an entertaining game played in Crookstown last Sunday afternoon to close the gap at the top of the second division table to seven points. However, the Crabs have a game in hand on Crookstown as they seek to clinch promotion to the first divison as league champions. Paddy Bohane continued his prolific start to the season with a stunning brace in a five minute spell mid-way through the first half to enable Baltimore hold a deserved two goal interval lead.

Crookstown dominated the second half and were rewarded for their superiority when Martin O'Sullivan pulled a goal back in the 75th minute when he shot home from close range. Crookstown laid siege to the Crabs' goal in the closing stages but could not penetrate a resolute Baltimore defence who held on to secure a crucial victory which keeps their dreams of annexing the second divison title very much intact.

Cloughduv maintain their recent good run of form with a convincing 3-0 home win against Clonakilty AFC B. William Buckley, Ger Shanahan and Denis Sheehan struck to maintain their hopes of mounting a late bid for promotion to the first division. They remain seven points behind Baltimore FC but have one game in hand on the Crabs. Sullane maintained fourth position in the league table courtesy of eking out a narrow 1-0 away win against Durrus. Sean O'Riordan struck the winning goal for Sullane. Sullane sit eight points behind Baltimore FC but have three games in hand as the race for automatic promotion intensifies.

Castlelack and Courtmacsherry shared the spoils after a thrilling four goal encounter. Paul O'Brian and Edward O'Driscoll struck for Castlelack. Kevin O'Driscoll and Shane O'Donovan were on target for Courtmacsherry. Mizen AFC emerged narrow victors over Drinagh Rangers B on a 1-0 scoreline. Daniel O'Driscoll grabbed the solitary goal. Harbour United secured their first victory of the league by virtue of a thrilling 3-2 home win against Dunmanway Town B. Denis McCarthy with a brace and Karl McCarthy struck to enable Harbour United claim a rare victory which propels them off the foot of the league table. Johnny Hurley and Brian McCarthy replied with consolation goals for Dunmanway Town B.

In the Ladies League, Beara Ladies competing in this league for the first time in their history moved to the top of the table after they were awarded a home win against Crookstown Ladies. Beara Ladies and reigning champions Bandon Ladies are level on points at the top of the table having played the same number of games but Beara Ladies possess a vastly superior goals scored record which enables them to remain at the summit. Drinagh Ladies remain in third place, well poised to launch a sustained challenge to clinch the Ladies premier league title for the first time since 2007.

Lyre Rovers Ladies cruised to a routine 5-0 home win against Dunmanway Town Ladies. Margaret Keohane netted a hat-trick with S. Forristal also chipping in with a goal. Knockavilla Ladies inflicted a crushing 19-0 win against Harbour United Ladies last Sunday. Caoimhe Creedon (4). C. McSweeney (3), A. Ni Chrualaoí (3), M. Hawkes,(2), N. Murphy (2), N. Ní Chrualaoí (2), E. Cotter, A. Lynch, N. Murphy were all on target in a facile victory.

Togher Celtic increased their lead at the top of the under-18 league to three points courtesy of a resounding 4-0 home win against Lyre Rovers last Saturday afternoon. Fintan Collins, Denis Cronin, Dave O'Brien and Declan Coughlan (his second in successive games) ensured Togher accounted for Lyre with the minimum of fuss. Skibbereen and Riverside Athletic played out a thrilling six goal thriller in the Baltimore Road venue last Saturday afternoon. Mark Collins with a brace and Jonathan Davis struck for the home team. Chris O'Donoghue (2) and Michael O'Driscoll replied for Riverside.

There were mixed emotions for the four West Cork teams in action in the various cup competitions played last Sunday. Drinagh Rangers produced a valiant performance before eventually bowing out of the Umbro FAI Junior Cup at the fourth round stage to MSL outfit St. Mary's who struck the winning goal after 40 minutes. In the third round of the Munster Junior Cup, Bay Rovers were defeated 2-1 at home against College Corinthians A. Shane Drummey opened the scoring for the home team who can be proud of their cup exploits thus far this season. Premier league outfit, Clonakilty AFC were narrowly defeated on a 1-0 scoreline against Ringmahon Rangers.

Skibbereen made up for their cup woe which they experienced the previous weekend with a hard fought 1-0 home win against Carrigaline United. Centre half, David Hodnett was the hero with his solitary goal after twenty minutes of the first half, enabling Skibb to eke out a narrow victory and secure their fourth round berth.

There is a full complement of league fixtures down for decision this Sunday, with a plethora of crucial games which could have significant repercussions at either end of the league table for all the teams involved with the run up to the festival season always a pivotal and indeed defining time of the season.

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