THE unpredictable nature of this season’s Ulster Bank League 2C season continued last week when Omagh Accies, who were in the title fight and seemingly assured of a top four play-off spot, fell to a 13-7 reverse at Midleton.
That result, which came with what could be a vital losing bonus point, leaves them at risk of ending a hugely successful campaign prematurely and with nothing to show for their efforts.
Later today, the final positions in the division will be sorted. Sligo entertain Thomond in what is essentially a title play-off and Malahide face the already relegated Bective Rangers, which means those three can pretty much be assured of play-off action on April 21 at worst.
Omagh, meanwhile, host Bruff in a game they quite simply have to get something out of because should they suffer defeat and should Midleton win at Seapoint, then there’s a real chance the Accies could miss out on the play-offs in fifth position.
“Our bonus point on Saturday [of last week] could be important!,” observed Accies head coach, Phil Marshall, who believes had the Midleton game been played on a good pitch and with a strong referee, the outcome would have been dramatically different.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and the result meant they failed to achieve their aims on the day, something he hopes to redress against Bruff.
“Our whole aim was to keep pace with the top two and eliminate Midleton from the picture, but we failed to do either of those,” he added.
“Best case scenario now is we finish second, third or fourth, but the worst is unfortunately fifth – win and we’re in the play-offs regardless.
“We have to get the mentality right because if we win our next three games we’re promoted, but that starts on Saturday [today] against a Bruff team who are fighting for their lives.
“But if we lose that our season’s over. I’d hate the season to finish flat and that could have big repercussions because the vultures are circling already, trying to entice some of our players away.”
Should the Accies qualify for the top four play-offs they will be back in action on April 21. A fourth placed finish will see them away to Belfast Harlequins, who are second bottom of 2B, while second hosts third in the other semi-final before the two winners face off in the final on April 28 for the final promotion place.
And while a further three wins would finish their first season back in the senior ranks perfectly, Marshall has been delighted with their campaign to date.
“We have surpassed my expectations for the season,” he said proudly. “I knew what the players were capable of, but I didn’t expect them to do this well in their first season.
“And regardless of how it all pans out the boys have got massive experience from this season, including several who didn’t look like having a chance to play for the first team this year.”
Kick-off at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields today is 2.30pm
Posted: 8:09 am April 14, 2018
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