SKIBBEREEN manager John Hayes has described Sunday’s Munster Junior League Division 1 derby against Clonakilty as a ‘win-at-all costs’ clash.
Both West Cork teams are embroiled in a relegation battle and currently sit fourth from bottom (Clon) and third from bottom (Skibb) with only two points separating them.
Two teams will be relegated from Division 1 and there is a possibility that a third team will fall through the trapdoor so both Skibb and Clon are fighting for the lives.
After Sunday both teams also have only two games left – Skibb away to Muskerry and home to Galbally, and Clon home to Cobh Pirates and away to Newcastle West – so the importance of picking up a win on Sunday cannot be underestimated.
Both teams are coming off the back of league defeats last weekend and they know there is no room for error in this run-in.
‘This is the biggest game we have played this season, it’s a cup final, it’s a local derby, both teams are in a relegation dog fight so this is a massive, massive match,’ Skibb’s John Hayes explained.
‘Skibb and Clon, since they came down to junior rugby, there has always been a good bite to the game and it will be the same this weekend. But we have to up our game to beat them.’
Hayes pulls no punches when he outlines that this is a must-win game for Skibb, who are at home in The Showgrounds where they will look to make that advantage count.
‘We have to win it and even if we do, we still need to win the games that are left,’ Hayes said.
‘Every game is a big game but this is massive; if we lose this, Clon will go five or six points ahead of us with only two games left.
‘It’s a lot more important for us to win this game than Clon, and that’s the attitude that we need to go in with. It’s win-at-all costs for us because we will be under savage pressure if we don’t win.’
Looking at the relegation situation, Hayes explains the possible permutations.
‘There are two definitely going down from Division 1, and if Bruff or Kanturk finish bottom or second last in the AIL, then it could be three going down,’ he said.
‘At the moment Bruff and Kanturk are after winning a few games and they look okay but there are five or six games left in the AIL so we don’t know what’s going to happen. You have to prepare for three teams going down. It’s tight at the bottom now, it’s between the five Cork teams at the bottom.’
Hayes also believes Skibb will have learned their lesson from last weekend’s defeat to Kilfeacle, a match that saw them fall 25 points behind after a poor first half.
Kick off this Sunday in Skibb is at 2.30pm.